Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Playdate Special: Pomegranate White Tea Panna Cotta with Blueberry Gelée


I'm addicted to flavor infusions. Just this morning I was making plain sugar syrup for a quick sorbet, but then I found myself headed out to the rampaging mint plant, scissors in hand. Minted syrup it is, then.

I can't help it. Infusions are so simple, and they can bring so much to a dish: seasonal flavor, whimsy, subtle surprise, elegance.

Panna cotta and gelées are perfect for playing with infusions, and score big points for impressive results with minimal effort. I've only just begun to make them, and am learning as I go. In my first stab at panna cotta, I tried incorporating yogurt to lighten it up. The result had good flavor, but it was oddly clumpy, far from creamy, smooth panna cotta.

My second try was much better. I steeped Trader Joe's Pomegranate White Tea in a blend of heavy cream, half-and-half, and low-fat milk, and was rewarded with silky, sensuous panna cotta. There was a bit of separation -- the top was noticeably creamier than the bottom -- but it was an insignificant price to pay for the prospect of savoring panna cotta on a regular basis.

I set the panna cotta over a layer of blueberry gelée, to mixed reviews. The kids didn't touch the gelée. My husband loved it. Anna liked the combination, but she noticed the tiny lumps of gelatin I couldn't quite dissolve. I would have preferred a thinner layer, or perhaps a few cubes of gelée atop the panna cotta. Or maybe toasted almond slices.

If you want to go easy on the gelée, scale that part of the recipe by half. I like this version, but I can see it going in a few different directions; at the end of the recipe, I note two variations I plan to try. This takes some time for steeping and chilling, but hands-on time is pretty light.

Pomegranate White Tea Panna Cotta with Blueberry Gelée

I used equal parts parts heavy cream, half-and-half, and low-fat milk. The tea is from Trader Joe's; you can substitute any tea you'd like. This makes 4 to 8 servings, depending on the size of your serving dishes.

For gelée:
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons gelatin
squeeze of lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine (optional)

For panna cotta:
3 tablespoons water
1 package gelatin
3 cups cream or half-and-half (can substitute milk for up to half the cream)
1/2 cup sugar
3 bags pomegranate white tea

Wash blueberries and puree in blender or food process. Strain berries into saucepan, add sugar, gelatin, lemon juice and red wine, and stir to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes, then bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour into serving dishes. Chill at least 30 minutes.

Sprinkle gelatin over water and let sit for 5 minutes. Warm cream over low heat and add gelatin, stirring to dissolve completely. Add sugar and cook, stirring, over medium heat, until mixture begins to steam. Turn off the heat, add tea bags, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.

Press tea bags against side of pan. If they burst, strain the cream mixture. Pour panna cotta into glasses and chill.

Rose-scented: In the panna cotta, substitute rosewater for half to two-thirds of the water.

Vanilla Bean Syrup: Stir together half a cup of sugar, half a cup of water, and a vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, in a small pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Let cool, then remove bean. Drizzle over chilled panna cotta.


Sophia said...

Wow, great job here. Awesome picture too! You should really consider submitting this to Recipe4Living's Summertime Sipper Contest! It looks delicious!

Darienne said...

Thanks for the kind words! Sophia, I'd love to enter -- and I like your the site -- but this is more a pudding/jelly concoction and isn't something to drink. I used a martini glass because I am sadly lacking small, cute glass dishes!


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