Hi! It’s been a minute. How are you?
Despite my absence from this blog for the past 4 years, I never stopped thinking about it, and all of you who keep subscribing everyday. I never stopped working on my love for food. It didn’t feel right for me to jump into a new recipe without giving you an update on what’s changed and how deeply my relationship with food runs now.
A lot has happened since the last blog post: going back to school (baking and pastry arts), moving into a new career (food photography), traveling, moving into my own space, gaining new skills, new relationships, new friends, finishing school, moving into yet another career (marketing/project management), and this COVID lockdown. I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to chase my dreams and experience so much—I look back at who I was 4 years ago, and I realize I am far cry from that young girl who felt awkward around people and unable to communicate my feelings.
It has been a wild roller coaster ride of putting myself out there, being unafraid to fail with the love and support of family and friends. Honestly I would not have been able to do it without the community around me, lifting me up to where I’m at today. Sometimes I complain about my day to day, but if I actually think about it, I am in my dream industry, and I had no idea I was going to end up here 10 years ago starting off as a young graphic designer.
If there’s anything I learned, it is that you need to fail to succeed. Success looks different to every person and everyone around you is only human. Be kind to one another and learn how to talk to people and navigate disagreements in a respectful manner. Don’t run away from your problems, tackle them straight on and tackle them with the grit that people around you deserve!
Enough about me and my preaching, without further ado, here is a Panna Cotta recipe that you can make ahead of time for your party prep!
What is Panna Cotta you ask? It’s classically an Italian dessert of sweetened cream set with gelatin in some sort of mold (no cooking required despite the name meaning ‘cooked cream’ in Italian). I see it as a jello made of milk/cream that stands up on its own. Having gone through 4 semesters of school for Baking and Pastry Arts, I can tell you, it’s what chefs make at restaurants for an impressive but easy and delicious gluten-free dessert option. Panna Cotta can be flavoured in many different ways and Earl Grey is just one of my favourite! So scale down for date night or scale up for a house party.
In an endeavor to bring more consistency to my recipe results (and also partially because this is the way we did things in baking school), I’ve started to include the measurement in weight for ingredients. Measuring in weight is much more accurate than the use of cups and teaspoons (volume) because everyone packs a cup differently. For example, a cup of brown sugar can vary from 200 to 300 grams depending on how tightly you pack it! Hopefully you can use a scale to try out these recipes but just in case you don’t, I’ve left the volume measurements in as well.
Cheers to a good culinary therapy session,
Earl Grey Panna Cotta with Blueberry Compote
YIELD: 4-5 servings
ACTIVE TIME: 35 min
TOTAL TIME (active + inactive time): 3 hr 35 mins (3 hrs resting in the fridge)
CREDITS: Frances Lam
SUMMARY: This easy no-fail recipe creates an impressive and delicious Earl Grey Panna Cotta complimented by a refreshing Blueberry Compote! Make ahead to impress your date or for a house party!
- 2.25 cups (225 g) frozen/fresh blueberries
- 6.5 tbsp (80 g) white sugar
- Few grates of fresh nutmeg (optional)
Earl Grey Panna Cotta
- 0.5 cups (125 g) Milk (skim or whole)
- 3 tbsp (38 g) White Sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 Earl Grey tea bags
- 1.25 tsp (3.5 g) Knox Gelatin
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1.5 cups (360 g ) Heavy Cream (35%)
- Transparent and neutral tasting vegetable oil (optional)
- Measuring cup and teaspoons or a scale
- Large Mixing bowl
- Small Saucepan
- Medium Saucepan
- Whisk (or a spatula to mix with)
- Panna cotta containers/molds (ramekins, glass cups, bowls etc.)
- Micro-plane grater (optional, required for grating nutmeg)
Blueberry Compote (Blueberry Sauce)
- In a medium saucepan, measure out your blueberries and sugar, stirring them together. Bring to a boil on high heat and immediately turn to just above a simmer for about 5-10 minutes depending on the consistency you like. Continue stirring until you see the sugar completely dissolved and juices on the bottom of the pan.
- Add in 3 – 4 passes of fresh nutmeg on your microplane grater (optional).
- Remove from the heat, transport to a container, and reserve in the refrigerator for later.
Earl Grey Panna Cotta
- In a small saucepan, measure out your milk, sugar, salt, and tea bags, and bring to a boil on high heat. Immediately remove from the heat, cover the saucepan and let the tea bags steep for 5 minutes.
- While your tea is steeping, measure out your vanilla extract and heavy cream into a large mixing bowl.
- Remove the tea bags from the milk (careful not to burn your hands), gently squeezing out the excess liquid back into the milk.
- Evenly sprinkle the gelatin powder on top of the warm milk, wait for 3 minutes, and whisk together until fully dissolved. If there are lumps, put the saucepan back on the stove on medium-low heat for 1 – 3 minutes and continue to whisk until dissolved (never let gelatin boil otherwise its ability to set the dessert becomes compromised).
- Add the milk mixture to the cream, mixing thoroughly, this is your earl grey panna cotta base. Let it come to cool.
- Divide the mixture into the containers you are using to set the panna cotta. If you plan on removing the panna cotta from the container before serving, be sure to swipe the insides with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil (this will make it easier to unmold). Or, if you are lazy like me, serve it in a wine glass (efficient and classy (I mean the recipe)).
- Cover the tops with plastic wrap and let the panna cotta rest in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours, or overnight.
Assemble and Serve
- If you are unmolding your panna cotta, skip to the next step. Otherwise, divide the blueberry coulis evenly into each panna cotta container and serve to your eagerly waiting guests!
- If you are serving the panna cotta on a plate (not in the container), Pour some hot water into a shallow bowl. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the panna cotta dessert and dip the bottom of the container into water holding for a few seconds. Invert onto a plate. If the dessert does not fall out, repeat the hot water step and try again. Spoon the blueberry coulis on top for a beautiful look and serve!
- Knox gelatin can be purchased at your local grocery store (knox is the brand).
- This panna cotta can also be made with other types of tea, or without the tea entirely. Simply follow the instructions with the omission of tea bags and steeping for a plain panna cotta base.
- Always let your gelatin mixture come to cool before pouring it in the mold or else it may separate
- I used frozen blueberries to make this recipe, fresh blueberries may take a bit longer to cook down and create juices but should yield the same result.
- If you are choosing to use nutmeg in any recipe, one easy way to step it up is to use freshly grated nutmeg versus pre-grated nutmeg. It is SO much more potent and adds a little something extra without a lot of work.