Skip to main content

Winter Panacotta



We are at that time of the year that's the cusp between summer and winter. It never really gets too cold in Mumbai but the air will start getting a little nippy in the evenings soon. Even when everyone is starting to talk about pumpkins and gingerbread, right now it feels too early to let go of the bright fruits and vegetables of the summer. Which is why this panacotta is a perfect dessert.

The panacotta itself is the 'warm' and wintery element in the dessert, full of cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger. To complement the creamy panacotta, I have added two more components. Well, three if you count the fresh pomegranate seeds. In addition to the pomegranate seeds, there is a pomegranate syrup, made fresh at home and tangy enough to cut through the panacotta's sweetness. The final element - the chocolate soil - provides the much needed textural contrast.

If you have never made panacotta before, let me assure you that this is the easiest dessert to whip together. No good panacotta recipe takes more than 5 minutes of effort but always looks fancy and elegant. And the chocolate soil might be my biggest discovery this year. I first saw the recipe as part of one of the Heston Blumenthal desserts. His version is too sweet so I've tweaked it to make it crunchier. The recipe makes more than you need for your panacotta but I dare you to stop munching on the soil; it's that addictive.

Ingredients
For Panacotta
200 ml cream (I used Amul 25%)
2 sheets or 1 tsp gelatin
30 grams white chocolate
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of dry ginger powder
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

For pomegranate syrup
Seeds of 1 large pomegranate (About 1 1/2 cups)
1 tsp lime juice

For chocolate soil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup caster sugar
80 grams dark chocolate (I used Callebaut 72%)
1 tbsp cocoa nibs (optional)

Take a bowl of water and soak your gelatin sheets in it. If using gelatine powder, add the gelatin to 1 tbsp water and set it aside. Heat the cream on a low heat until it's hot (but do not let it get to boiling point). Add the chocolate and the spices and stir until the chocolate melts. Take the cream off the heat and add the powdered gelatin, water and all to the mix. If using sheets, squeeze out the water and add the sheets to the cream. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved in the warm cream. Pour the panacotta mixture into three small ramekins or silicon moulds. Let cool, then put in the fridge for 1-2 hours to set.

While your panacotta is setting, make the other elements of the dessert. Keep a handful of pomegranate seeds aside and put the rest in the blender. Blitz for a few seconds to partly crush the seeds, then pass through a fine mesh sieve to get pomegranate juice. Put the juice in a pan along with the lime juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let the juice cook until it is reduced to half.

For chocolate soil, chop the chocolate into tiny pieces. Combine water and sugar in a non stick frying pan. Put on a medium heat. Stir for the first minute until the sugar dissolves, then leave the boiling syrup on its own until you start to see the start of the caramel color on the edges of the pan. This can take a few minutes so be patient and stay close to the pan. As soon as the sugar starts to color, turn off the heat and add all the chocolate. Keep stirring - at first the chocolate will melt and it will all be one pool of liquid chocolate. But as the mixture cools, it will turn into soil-like crystallised chocolate. Let cool completely and then, if you can find them, add cocoa nibs for some extra crunch.

Invert your set panacotta on a plate. Pour over pomegranate syrup, add a tbsp or so of chocolate soil to the side and sprinkle some of the reserved fresh pomegranate seeds to finish.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mystery Fruit

This only happened a few times every year, just when the rainy season kicked in. A street hawker will come by, straw basket on head. He will yell "kaul chapni" and I will run out to buy a bundle of these. Stuck together like flowers, they looked like a bouquet. Every hole contains a little fruit. You break out the package, peel the tiny fruit that pops out and eat it. Done slowly, it can take you an hour to eat an head. Or did, when I was about 12 years old.

That was the last time I saw this fruit. I've never seen it again, didn't even know what it was called or where it came from. Three weeks back, Vikram Doctor wrote about a store in Khar that sells Sindhi foods. He described this fruit and I knew it came from my vivid childhood memories. And finally, I knew we were talking about lotus fruit.

Now talk about coincidences. Last weekend, I was passing by a lane in Bandra and for the first time in many, many years I saw the straw basket filled with my mytery fruit. It…

Of Brun and Bun Maska

There is more to Bombay's breads than the pao that goes into pao bhaji and vada pao. There's Brun. and there's bun. We will get there. First, you have to get to know the city's Parsis. And Iranis, who are also Zoroastrians, but came to city a little later, in the late 19th or early 20th century. And when they came, they brought with them these little cafes that dot the city.

I am no expert on Irani chai cafes. And I can't tell you whether Yazdani Bakery will provide you the best experience or Kyani's. But I can tell you a few things you need to ignore when you get there. Appearances don't matter; so ignore the fact that the marble/glass top tables and the wooden chairs look a bit dilapidated. Also ignore the rundown look the place sports.

Instead, get yourself settled. And order a bun muska. This one's familiar to you as a first cousin of the soft hamburger bun. It's similar, but just a tad bit sweeter. Maska, of course, is the generous dollop of b…

A Bowlful of Comfort

I have a friend who is quite the globetrotter. Lunches at her place, often right after her trips, are a treasure trove of global flavours. But the last time we met, she was just back from Tamil Nadu and out she brought a bowl of curd rice. I love curd rice and have eaten a lot of it over the years but my friend's version was so full of flavours and textures, it was a revelation. Obviously, I asked for the recipe.

The genius of this curd rice lies in adding the tempering or the tadka twice, once to mix in the rice so it absorbs all the flavours. Then you make a second batch to top the rice with just before you serve, so it adds crunch to the usually mushy dish. The recipe also has a few other elements added in for texture, freshness and flavour.

I over-ate at lunch at my friend's and I over-ate again when I made this for myself for lunch. Plus, all the ingredients you need are likely in your kitchen already so you may as well go make it now.

Ingredients
1/2 cup rice
1 cup plain…