If ever there was a dessert to rival my love affair with cheesecakes, it is the Panna Cotta, an old Italian dessert which literally means cooked cream. Creamy and indulgent, there’s nothing quite like dipping your spoon into a glass of panna cotta covered with your favourite fruit topping!
And there are so many other reasons to love panna cotta:
– it’s a make ahead dessert
– it’s so, so easy to make
– it’s gluten free
– it’s egg free
– it can be dairy free (just use an alternative milk)
– and with vege/vegan gel, it can be vegan too!
This panna cotta and strawberry swirl is not altogether a new recipe but more a bringing together of two of my favourites: Mascarpone Panna Cotta and Strawberry “sauce”. Instead of just topping the panna cotta with some stewed fruit after it sets, we add the unstrained coulis to the panna cotta while it’s still runny, swirl it for effect, then place it in the fridge to set.
Creamy panna cotta is just made to be served with something sharp and acidic and fruit, to me, is always an obvious choice.
A tall-ish dessert glass or wine glass is perfect for this as it shows the swirls off to perfection.
You can also use a combination of strawberries & raspberries.
Mascarpone Panna Cotta
- 1 x 400 g (14 oz) punnet of fresh strawberries (frozen will work too)
- 100 g (3.5 oz) sugar
- juice of half a lemon
- 400 ml (1 and two thirds cup) double cream
- 400 ml (1 and two thirds cup) mascarpone
- 2 tsp gelatine powder
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 120 g (4 and one fifth oz) caster sugar
- Pour 150ml of the double cream in a wide, shallow dish and scatter the gelatine all over and leave to soak for 15 minutes.
- Combine the rest of the cream and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently and bring to boil. Keep an eye on it as it will suddenly rush up!
- Take off the heat and add the soaked gelatine and stir.
- Add the mascarpone and vanilla paste and whisk the whole mixture for about a minute to combine thoroughly.
- You should get a smooth mixture just like homemade custard. Strain if necessary but I don’t think you’ll need to.
- Rinse and chop strawberries in half or quarters, place in a pan, add sugar & lemon juice and simmer everything for about 10 minutes.
- We won't be straining the fruit as we're not after coulis, we're using the fruit pieces too.
- Take 4 tall wine or champagne glasses and fill them to about 1 inch from the top.
- Drop about 2 tsp of the fruit into each glass.
- Using the back of a spoon, go right down in the glass and make circles the size of the glass but not quite touching the edge, while slowly moving to the top of the glass. You can repeat this a few times if you're not getting enough swirl.
- That's it for now. Place in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or overnight. Keep the rest of the fruit, covered, in the fridge.
- Just before serving, top with the remaining fruit sauce and decorate as wished. Mint leaves are always a good contrast. In this picture, I've got borage flowers and mint.
Need 6 hours of chilling time. Can be made 2 days ahead but the stewed fruit will only last a day. You can always make the fruit fresh on the day you're serving, as it's a 15 minute job.