Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chocolate Panna Cotta

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Finally, a completed recipe. I have made this a number of times and I failed miserably on so many accounts. It turned out that the main problem was the gelatin I used. Knox is the only tried and tested brand of unflavored gelatin in powdered form that will make this recipe work. Also, another modification I used was the use of cream cheese instead of Mascarpone cheese. The reason for this switch is none other than the fact that Mascarpone cheese is hard to find here where I currently live. You have to specially order them and I cannot really order in small amounts due to the steep shipping costs so I substitute with cream cheese whenever a recipe calls for it. They taste about 10% similar but you work with whatever is available.

The recipe is from the Williams-Sonoma website. I was intruiged by the fact that part of the cream base was substituted with Mascarpone cheese. Looking back now, I wish that I stuck to using more cream instead of the cream cheese. For a good panna cotta, you want to start with a thick base but it should be uniform in texture so that it sets as one solid mass. In the end, the cream cheese was not melted enough and you can see bits of it once cooled. Overall though, the taste of the panna cotta was delicious. Sweet with a hint of tartness from the cream cheese. Still, I'm probably being overcritical but I wish I used plain heavy cream.

Chocolate Panna Cotta - Adapted*

4 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4  cups cream cheese or more cream
6 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 3/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
6 oz semisweet chocolate

1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the cream and the cream cheese over 
    medium low heat. Make sure the cream does not boil. Use a whisk to mix 
    the cream cheese into the cream.

2. Once warm and smooth, take about 1/2 cup of the cream base and 
    transfer into a small bowl. Add the gelatin into it and let stand until the 
    gelatin has softened. 

3. Return the reserved cream with the gelatin into the cream base. Add the 
    chocolates, brown sugar and instant coffee and mix until smooth. 

4. Turn off the heat and pour the mixture into a large measuring bowl over a
    fine sieve. Stir in the vanilla. 

5. Grease 6-7 ramekins with unsalted butter and pour the chocolate mixture 
    until about three fourths full. Cover with clingwrap and cool in the fridge 
   until set. This will take about 4-6 hours.

6. To serve, dip the ramekin into a hot water bath for about 5 seconds. 
    Loosen the panna cotta from the ramekin by running a sharp knife on the 
    sides. Invert onto a plate and serve with strawberry sauce, a dollop of 
    whipped cream and grated chocolates.

*Williams-Sonoma: Chocolate Panna Cotta

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