As Gordon Ramsay once said, pannacotta is considered one of the world's sexiest deserts. I learned to make it when I attended a cooking class in Florence, Italy, and I must say, I was amazed how easy it is to make it. Literally, it means "cooked cream" in Italian, and guys, that's just what it is! One of it's most significant benefits is that this dessert should be made at least a day ahead, and can be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days easily.
So, here's what we will need (for 4 portions):
- 500 ml (17 fl. oz) heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp good vanilla extract)
- 50 g (2 oz) white sugar
- 2 tbsp rum
- 4 leaves gelatine. That's equivalent to 7 g (1/4 oz) gelatine powder.
For the orange glaze:
- 240 ml (8 fl. oz) fresh orange juice
- 3 tbsp sugar
- splash of Cointreau liquor
For the topping: 1 bar of a good quality dark chocolate
Ok... the only trick about this is working with gelatine. If you have leaves, soak them in cold water first. If you have powder, then you need to use 5 ml water to each gram of gelatine. In other words, to soak 7 g gelatine you'll need 35 ml (1.2 fl. oz) cold water.
Once we got this sorted out, let's deal with the pannacotta. In a saucepan mix the heavy cream, sugar, rum and the seeds from the vanilla bean (or the extract). Bring to the point of boiling, constantly mixing, but do not let boil. It's important. Instead, take off the heat, squeeze the gelatine leaves dry and whisk into the cream mixture until fully dissolved. If you work with the gelatine powder, then first, add few tablespoons of the hot cream mixture to the bowl where you soaked the gelatine powder, mix, and then - add back to the saucepan, whisking in until fully dissolved.
Pour into the portion glasses (I used whiskey glasses here, works great!) and - off they go to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours until set. Overnight is best. That's it, the main part's done!
Now let's do the glaze. Simply mix the orange juice, sugar and the Cointreau in the saucepan, bring to boil and reduce down by half, or until thick and syrupy. You'll see that easily when the bubbles start to thicken. Once reduced - pour into a bowl or a glass and let cool.
Before serving, divide the glaze equally on top of the pannacotta in the glasses, tilt the glasses to make an even layer. Then, using the sharp knife, "shave" the dark chocolate to make those nice chips and simply set on top. BTW, "shaving" the chocolate is way easier if you put it to a freezer an hour ahead.
Guys, seriously, it only sounds complex. In fact, it's the easiest dessert I know, and indeed one of the most tastiest ones.