Over the weekend we made two puddings, both of which I will DEFINITELY be making at home again.
So, our first dessert was a panna cotta, our ingredients were:
- Whole Milk
- Double Cream
- Optional flavour (I will explain this in a sec)
Although I cannot remember the exact measurements, I know it was equal parts milk and cream, and one sheet of gelatine.
On the bench at the front of the kitchen were three extra bowls of ingredients from which we could choose to flavour our panna cottas. Normally I have only ever had basic flavours, for example fruit, vanilla or maybe caramel, however this time we were allowed to explore different ingredients. The three bowls contained: bay leaves, cloves and cardamom.
I had ruled out the cloves in my head already, as this is more of a Christmassy flavour which I didn’t quite fancy in spring, so I was left with bay leaves and cardamom. After some consideration I decided I wanted to give the cardamom a go. This seed originates from India and Sri Lanka and is regularly found in curry and rice dishes. I had seen lots of chefs on Masterchef experiment with cardamom in puddings, so I wanted to give it a go too.
The method for the recipe was surprisingly simple, which is why I am excited to try it at home. This weekend we had a mix of both challenging and more simple recipes, which meant I learnt a lot, as I am able to transfer some of these skills into my own uni kitchen. As much as I would love to buy whole fish and fillet them myself at uni, this isn’t super practical, however recipes like the panna cotta are a lot more doable.
I added the milk, cream and sugar into a sauce pan and stirred so that the sugar had melted and the liquid had started to warm. As cardamom is quite a strong flavour I only needed one seed, and roughly chopped the black seeds inside the main shell into little chunks. These too were added to the saucepan, and the flavours were left to infuse for a few minutes.
To prepare the gelatine for the panna cotta we had to re-hydrate the sheet. This was done by simply placing it in a jug of water for a few minutes, until soft and flimsy. Once this had been completed, the gelatine was added into the milk, cream, sugar and cardamom seeds.
As we had to break the gelatine sheet in half Connor had specifically told us to ensure we put BOTH pieces into the saucepan. However, on our clean up it became apparent that one of us had accidentally poured half of theirs down the sink as it sat sadly in the plug hole. The only issue was, we had to wait for the panna cottas to set, or not as the case may be, before we discovered who the unlucky chef was. (Spoiler, it wasn’t me!)
Once the mixture was done on the hob we strained the liquid over a sieve to remove any pieces of cardamom and into a dariole mould, a little metal pot. This mixture allowed enough for two panna cottas to be made, and these were then left in the fridge for around 2 hours (I cannot remember 100% sorry!).
To go alongside our panna cottas we made some rough puff pastry fingers with a blood orange and Demerara sugar top. Now, I am not a huge fan of pastry, to the point where i’m not even that keen on a chocolate croissant, but it is something I am interested in cooking, as I know it is a base for so many dishes. I really wish I loved pie and mash but I just can’t teach my brain to like it.
The method of creating the rough puff was a bit fiddly, and I cannot remember every single step, however I know it was something like the following.
To flour we added chunks of chilled butter and water and combined the three, ensuring that the butter was not broken up. We squished the ingredients together into a tight-ish ball, wrapped it in cling film and left it in the fridge for a couple of hours. The water made the process slightly challenging, as I found myself frantically trying to create a water dam with flour around the edge of my bench, before hurriedly scraping it all back to the middle of my worktop.
Once it was time to go back to our pastry, we were instructed to get out our rolling pins and work our muscles. After sprinkling the work top with some extra flour we began the lengthy, and precise, process of rolling and folding the pastry. This part was vital to the cooking process as the folds created flaky layers to the pastry, ensuring it puffed up in the oven.
Once we had rolled and folded, and rolled and folded we eventually cut the pastry into our desired finger shapes and carefully placed them on a baking tray.
To add some sweetness to the pastry, in a cup we combined a few tablespoons of Demerara sugar, and the grated rind of one blood orange. The sugar really complimented the bitterness from the rind, and the overall taste was crunchy, tangy and sugary-sweet.
The pastry was put in the oven and began to puff up nicely! I think these were in for around 15 mins, but please don’t quote me on that! I will have all of the precise timings when the recipes are emailed out to us, so if you are interested, give me a message.
Once the panna cottas were set and the orange pastry fingers brown and fluffy it was time to plate up. To remove the creamy pud from its metal case we left the mould in a small jug of warm water for 4 seconds, before sharply giving the pud a shake- whilst holding your fingers over the top of course, otherwise panna cotta would be flying around the kitchen. Luckily I managed to plate mine quite well, a long with a few of my pastry fingers, which I actually really liked. However, I think this was probably down to all the sugar I sprinkled on top!
The cardamom was the perfect amount, a subtle flavour that didn’t overpower the delicate set cream. Once I have got myself a few panna cotta moulds and sourced some gelatine sheets I will definitely be giving it a go at home!