MARY IN THE KITCHEN

Remind your self: "Life is short, have the dessert". Now, I have been wanting to share with you recipes, cause baking is a big part of me, so I thought it should be part of this blog too.

When I was a kid, my mom would make all of my birthday cakes, she would some times make chocolate truffles or brownies, and I always wanted to be involved in the process (probably because I wanted to lick the spoon). It was and still is to me very fascinating. With only three ingredients you can make the world's best cookie (that's not what I am sharing today, but stay tuned for that). I would watch pastry shows on the TV, read cooking books, and I think I was 15 when I baked my first batch of chocolate chip cookies.

As I was getting older, I would challenge myself to bake more complicated desserts (still do), I believe the hardest I had to do so far was baking a gingerbread house, cause I had to do the architectural design in cardboard, cut it out, make the dough, bake it, assemble it and then even decorate it. I would buy all these different cookie cutters and cake forms, and now I have a pretty good collection.

Today, I wanted to share with you a recipe, that I haven't tried myself before, so that's a double challenge. I thought of making my dad's favorite, panna cotta. It's an Italian classic, sort of like a cold jello-custard that is usually served with some type of sauce, I chose caramel (recipe included), but if you decide to make this you can use anything you want. Also, this recipe made me about 6 full glasses of panna cotta, which I admit is kind of big, so you can either fill 11-12 half glasses, or you can split the recipe in half, your call, but I am always "go big or go home". So let's cut to the chase.

Panna Cotta

  • 60g (60ml) cold water
  • 15g (3 teaspoons) gelatin
  • 490g (2 cups) heavy cream (35%)
  • 490g (2 cups) milk
  • 100g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce

  • 50g (50ml) butter
  • 100g (100ml) heavy cream
  • 75g (90ml) dark brown sugar
  • 1 drop of vanilla extract (optional)
  • a pinch of salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix the water and the gelatin with a spoon and set aside.
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  1. In a small pot add the milk, the cream and the sugar, and heat it over medium-high heat, while stirring with a whisk, until the sugar is dissolved completely. Do not let it boil, you just want it to be hot enough to later add the gelatin.
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  1. About this time, the gelatin should look something like this:
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  1. Remove the pot from the stove, and stir in the vanilla extract.
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  1. Now this step is optional, but if you did overcooked the mixture it could have some lumps, so you should pass it through a sieve.
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  1. It's time to add in the gelatin. Stir until it's completely dissolved.
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  1. Choose some nice looking glasses or bowls and pour the mixture in. Then put them in the fridge to chill. I would suggest putting them at least 6 hours in the fridge.
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The panna cotta is going to be very tasty even without the caramel sauce. To be true I liked it without more, because I find it to be very sweet. Your choice if you want to take the extra steps:

  1. In the same pot we used earlier, add the cream, the butter and the brown sugar.
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  1. Heat it over medium heat, and as soon as it starts getting thicker remove it from the stove, it is going to get thicker as it cools down. Do not heat it a lot, you will end up with caramels instead of a sauce. Do not taste it yet, it is going to be really hot. Add in the vanilla extract and the salt (optional).
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  1. Add the sauce to a bowl or a jar and let it cool to room temperature.
  2. After waiting for the panna cottas to chill we now can add some of the caramel sauce on top.
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  1. You can even add any decoration you want, I had some coconut flakes on hand.
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  1. Invite friends over and serve them this dessert. They will be impressed.

Did I mention that I'm not that much into sweets (she writes while devouring that last panna cotta)? What gives me pleasure when making a dessert, apart from the whole process of making it, is that I can please others. Everyone likes having dessert occasionally, but not everyone has the time or the patience to actually make it. Patience, that's not a virtue that I was born with. Baking requires having a lot of patience, getting all the ingredients, doing all the measurements, following the instructions (reading them again and again), and then waiting for the dessert while it's baking or chilling, or both. It is easy, but it is time consuming. I became patient, it trained me.

Just like in life, nothing big happens over night. Working hard and being patient makes dreams come true. In life, as you all know, there's ups and downs, and in baking, you can either get it right or wrong. You should know I don't always achieve the result I want when baking. Do you know how many times I had to go back to the store and buy the same ingredients again and re-bake it? Well I don't know, I didn't keep track, but a lot is the answer. And you can imagine that was very frustrating. I am baking in my small kitchen, trying to have fun, get my mind off something and do what I enjoy doing, and ending up with charcoal instead of brownie cookies...

But did I give up? Heck no. You know why? First of all, I had challenged myself. When I do that, "make panna cotta" is being written down on my bucket list, by my brain (my obsessive compulsive brain). I couldn't help but making it. Secondly, when deciding that I'm making a dessert, I have already shared that information with everyone, and now I have people to feed, can't let them down. And last but not least, I have learned not to quit. Mary never quits. I am going to make that dessert no matter how many times I will have to do it over again. You want it, you can have it, whatever it is, just don't quit.

Enjoy your panna cotta. Never quit.

See you soon,

MK