I would admit that I’m not a fan of panna cottas. And let’s just say “not a fan” is putting it mildly. It’s the dessert that I most often gloss over in any dessert menu.
I did have that one panna cotta that left a deep impression. It was part of the degustation menu at Aria in Sydney that I had probably five years ago. When I read “panna cotta” on that menu, I was frankly disappointed and I remember thinking, couldn’t have Chef Matt Moran come up with something more exciting?
It ended up as the best panna cotta I ever had; it was a memorable vanilla panna cotta with strawberry jelly that my best friend I still reminisce about fondly till this day. Sure, it was safe in terms of flavours – strawberry and vanilla but it was what I desired after a heavy and rich meal.
Since I had some fresh yuzu fruit left, I thought that maybe I should make a yuzu panna cotta. In my mind, the delicate and refreshing flavour and its light texture would make a good dessert.
The problem I faced was trying to decide on the “sauce” to go with this yuzu panna cotta. I thought a berry compote would detract the flavour of the yuzu; I experimented with a lemon caramel sauce but tossed that out because the citrus caramel while nice, overpowered this delicate yuzu flavour in the panna cotta.
In the end, I went with a simple yuzu simple syrup and gave it some candied lemon peel as garnish. The flavour of this panna cotta is simply perfect – delicate and light and the texture of it is how panna cotta should be – creamy and smooth; it gives a slight wobble as you give the plate a light shake.
If you are pressed for time and still want to make dessert for a dinner, a panna cotta is probably the answer. It is easy and quick to put together, can be made in advance (overnight) and with light flavours would make the perfect ending to a heavy meal.
I think that I’m slowly but surely changing my opinion of panna cotta…as long as it wobbles.
Recipe: Yuzu panna cotta
Adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s BBC recipe
Makes 6 small stainless steel moulds
I used a few small stainless steel jelly moulds for this and only half-filled these moulds as I prefer having a small portion of panna cotta.
You don’t have to oil it as the panna cotta comes out easily when you dipped the moulds in hot water for a few seconds. You can even serve these in little shot glasses if you don’t wish to unmould the panna cotta.
If you cannot find yuzu, you can make a citrus panna cotta with any other citrus fruits. Lemon would be perfect! I serve these with some homemade candied citrus peels – refer to my recipe here.
300ml double cream
75ml full cream milk
100g caster sugar
zest of 1 yuzu fruit (use a knife to cut the peel off, remove the pith)
Juice of 1 yuzu fruit
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1.5 gelatine leaves (Gold strength)
1. Place cream, milk into a pot and heat it up until it is warm to touch. Place yuzu zest to allow to infuse for about 30 mins.
2. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl with cold water (I use room temperature water with a few ice cubes) and set aside.
3. Add in sugar to the above pot and bring to a boil. When cream comes to a boil, add in the juice of the lemon and yuzu and stir until combined. Simmer for a few minutes.
4. Remove the gelatine from the water and squeeze off any excess water. Stir it into the hot cream mixture. Let the mixture cool down completely, give it a good whisk, before straining it into a jug (removing the yuzu peel).
5. Pour the mixture into the moulds (about 85ml per mould) and refrigerate for at least 5 hrs (until completely set) or overnight.
6. To remove the panna cotta from the moulds, dip the moulds into hot water for a few seconds and then turn it out on your serving dish.
To make a simple yuzu syrup:
Alternatively, you can make a simple lemon syrup. Use the juice of half a lemon. Because a yuzu fruit yields less juice than a lemon.
50g caster sugar
juice from a yuzu
zest from half a yuzu (use a paring knife to remove a strip of zest without pith)
1. Place sugar and water, zest of half a yuzu, and heat until it comes to a boil, until the sugar has dissolved completely. Squeeze in the juice of half a yuzu. Taste and add more yuzu juice, to taste.
1. Spoon the yuzu syrup over the yuzu panna cotta and topped with some candied citrus peel.