Panna cotta is not only a dessert that secretly is very easy to make yet looks like you slaved away for years, it also sounnnnnddds super fancy and difficult just by sheer nature of it's Italian nomenclature. It really just means 'cooked cream', and if you were to even break it down further into a literal name of what's in a panna cotta, you could practically call it cream jello. But ewwwwww, would you eat it if I sat it in front of you and demanded, "Here, eat this milk jello!" I bet you wouldn't. And you would be missing out on a creamy, fabulous dessert that's super fast to put together yet fancy enough for company. So pretend I didn't call it 'milk jello' and let's proceed on with making Panna Cotta, shall we?
I based my recipe off of the general proportions of a Gourmet recipe for buttermilk blackberry panna cotta, but made a few changes, not the least of which was the switch to raspberries (for blackberry u-pick season has yet to begin).
For the panna cotta
3/4 lb raspberries (about 3 cups)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur
For the raspberry sauce
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp raspberry liqueur
1 cup fresh (or frozen) raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup additional fresh raspberries, for adding to the sauce after it is cooked
You'll need 6 (6 oz) ramekins or glass dishes, as I have here. I lightly sprayed them with non-stick spray hoping that would make it easier to remove the panna cotta once it has set.
For the panna cotta:
1. Add the raspberries and buttermilk to the jar of a blender and puree until very smooth, then pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing out as much of the liquid and raspberry goodness (minus most of the seeds!) as you can.
2. Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small bowl and let stand 1 minute to soften.
3. Add the cream and sugar to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved (the cream should be steaming but not boiling). Remove from heat and add the dissolved gelatin, stirring until incorporated.
4. Stir the cream mixture and raspberry liqueur into the raspberry purée.
Tip: I transfer the puree to my 4-cup liquid measuring cup to make it easier to divide among the 6 ramekins, and you can strain it again before pouring into the ramekins if you are super obsessed about having a really smooth panna cotta, but I didn't mind a few raspberry seeds here and there.
5. Pour mixture into the ramekins and chill covered in the refrigerator until firm, at least 6 hours. The flavor really does get better after a day or too, and it’s even easier to serve for company if you make the panna cottas the night before and then just have the sauce left to make before you serve the dessert.
For the raspberry sauce:
Boil water, raspberry liqueur, 1 cup raspberries and sugar in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally, until thickened and slightly syrupy and reduced to about 2/3 cup, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in lemon juice, then pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve or strainer to remove the raspberry seeds, pressing down to extract as much of the liquid and raspberry pulp as you can. Stir in the 1/2 cup fresh raspberries once the liquid has cooled.
To serve panna cottas, run a thin knife along the edge of the ramekins to loosen, and if they still don’t want to pop out, dip the bottom of the in a small bowl of warm water 3 to 5 seconds (don’t do this for too long or it will start to melt!), then invert panna cottas onto plates and gently lift off the ramekins. Spoon the raspberry sauce over and around each panna cotta.
After my trip to Sauvie Island Farms on Monday with my intrepid new friend Laura, I fear I may be losing the battle against my u-pick addiction. Though I only picked 10 lbs of peaches (a paltry quantity considering how heavy each peach is), I ended up with over 6 lbs of raspberries (for $12 and change!!!). I couldn't help it really, because I liked all 3 of the varieties they grow. I thought the extra tartness of the Tulameen and the super sweetness of the Saanich combined with the deep flavor of the Coho variety would all make the Best, Most Delicious Raspberry Jam in All the History of Raspberry Jam. It's not to say that the raspberries just hopped into this giant box (that tiny bare space in the box is after I removed the 3/4 lb of raspberries for this recipe), because believe me I was picking raspberries for long past an hour, but well, you know....