Panna Cotta is a delicious traditional Italian dessert and a personal favorite. It has a wonderful creamy, almost silky texture that literally just melts in your mouth. Although panna cotta is generally made using gelatin, I have made my version using agar agar instead so it’s completely vegetarian.
Panna cotta (Italian) translates directly into “cooked cream” and although this may sound a bit odd - I can assure you - it really is simply heavenly. This is a perfect dessert for entertaining since it can be made well in advance.
Rose flavored syrup (or rose water) is commonly used in many Indian desserts and beverages. It is very exotic and really captures the lovely floral fragrance of roses. Both rose syrup & rose water are readily available in most large grocery stores, supermarkets, specialty stores and in Indian and Middle Eastern markets. Agar agar can also be found in many specialty stores and Indian grocery stores. Edible rose petals can be found in specialty stores and markets.
ROSE PANNA COTTA
2 cups heavy cream (you can use half & half)
2 cups whole milk
½ vanilla bean, slit in half lengthwise & the seeds scraped (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
1 tsp agar agar powder
½ cup sugar, to taste
¼ cup rose syrup or rose water, to taste (you can add more/less if you prefer)
oil (vegetable or canola)
edible rose petals for garnish, optional
8 oven safe ramekins, lightly oiled
In a small saucepan, add 1 cup of water and the tsp of agar agar powder. Stir and just let the agar agar soak for about 10-15 minutes. Next, turn the heat on to medium high and bring to a gentle boil. Let simmer on low and keep stirring for about 5 minutes or until all the agar agar has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside until needed.
In a medium saucepan on medium heat, combine the heavy cream with the milk and sugar. Stir well until the sugar has completely dissolved. Then add the entire vanilla bean along with any of its seeds. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover and remove completely from the heat. Let stand for at least 15-20 minutes. Then discard the vanilla bean, stir in the agar agar mixture and then slowly whisk it into the hot cream and milk mixture. Stir well to combine and add in the rose syrup. Stir well and pour into the ramekins, dividing the mixture equally. Let chill in the refrigerator for least 4-6 hours or longer.
To unmold and serve, carefully dip the bottom of each ramekin in a small bowl of hot water for just a minute or so. Then run a small paring knife around the inner edge of the ramekin. Place a small serving plate (eating side down over the top of the ramekin) and carefully invert the entire plate & ramekin. Now gently shake the ramekin so that the panna cotta easily slides out onto the serving plate. Garnish with edible rose petals and serve chilled.
Serve with your favorite fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches…
You can pour the panna cotta mixture into martini glasses or stemless wine glasses (use as stylish serving dishes) – that way you don’t even need to unmold them.
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