Lavender Panna Cotta with Raspberry Coulis

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I wanted to use up the left over cream that I had from making the chocolate cake.  So I thought, what could be better than Panna Cotta, for something quick and simple?  Smooth and creamy, and served with a coulis and fresh raspberries, it’s the perfect summertime dessert.  I love the hint of lavender, but you can omit this and stick to the basic recipe, or add your own flavours, sauces and other toppings.

The basic Panna Cotta recipe was adapted from David Lebovitz, which in turn, was adapted from Judy Witts’ Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen.

LAVENDER PANNA COTTA (Serves 8)

Ingredients:

4 cups heavy cream (or half-and-half)
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 tsp lavender extract
2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
6 Tbsp (90 mL) cold water

Method:

1) Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and lavender extracts.

(If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture before continuing.)

2) Lightly oil eight custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil.

3) Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

4) Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

5) Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm.

If you’re pressed for time, pour the Panna Cotta mixture into wine goblets so you can serve them in the glasses, without unmolding.

6) Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and serve with chilled Raspberry Coulis and fresh raspberries.

Notes:

You can make Panna Cotta up to two days in advance and keep them well-covered and chilled.

To make Panna Cotta with sheet gelatin: Soften 25 g (approximately six sheets) in a liter of cold water for 5 to 10 minutes. Wring the sheets out and stir them into the warm Panna Cotta mixture in step # 4, until dissolved.

RASPBERRY COULIS (Makes about 150 mL)
(Adapted from BBC GoodFood)

Ingredients:

250 g Raspberries
50 g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

1) Put the blackberries and sugar into a small pan with 100ml/31⁄2fl oz water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 mins until the fruit is soft. Stir in the vanilla, remove and cool a little.

2) Tip the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor, and whizz to a purée, then strain through a sieve, rubbing it through with the back of a ladle or spoon. Serve warm or chilled. Keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

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