Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wondrous Panna Cotta Parfaits
with Raspberry Compote

The recipe I’m about telling you about today is absolutely wondrous.
   It’s an extended family favorite that I’ve made dozens of times. It always pleases when it is served.
   It’s easy to make, and works as well for a casual dinner party as it does for a weeknight.
   The recipe is Panna Cotta Parfaits with Raspberry Compote (click for the recipe).
   I made these for the first time four years ago after seeing them in Bon Appetit magazine.
   I remember distinctly my husband’s reaction when he first tasted one.
   “Mmmm, that’s good,” he said with a smile of satisfaction on his face. “They’re so awesome and creamy.”
   That they are. The velvety, creamy bottom is to die for, and it’s topped by a lovely combination of raspberries and balsamic vinegar.
   Fussy steps often seen in other panna cotta recipes, like cooking the panna cotta in a water bath and then flipping them onto a dessert plate, are absent here.
   That’s likely because the recipe was submitted to the magazine by a father and his young daughter, who often cook together.
   It’s imperative that pure vanilla extract is used in this recipe, not imitation. Vanilla provides an essential flavor to the creamy bottom.
   Rather than using champagne flutes as directed in the recipe, I simply use dessert bowls. I also skip the part about putting one raspberry at the bottom of each dessert.
   The bottoms of the parfaits are made by sprinkling gelatin over water in a small saucepan, and letting the gelatin soften, about 10 minutes.
   In a medium saucepan, ½ cup of whipping cream and ½ cup of sugar are combined and stirred over low hit until sugar dissolves. This is poured into a large bowl, and 1 ½ cups cream, sour cream and vanilla are stirred in until just mixed.
   The gelatin mixture is stirred over very low heat until the gelatin dissolves. It’s very important that the gelatin dissolves completely, or the parfaits won’t set. When the water goes from being cloudy to clear again, the gelatin has dissolved properly.
   The gelatin mixture is whisked into the cream mixture, and this is poured into bowls. The parfaits are chilled until they set, about three hours.
   For the topping, fresh raspberries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar are combined in a bowl.
   The topping is spooned over the parfaits, and then these beauties are served.

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