Made this Panna Cotta 2 weeks back for a dinner party at friend’s place. I love Panna Cotta as it is rich light Italian dessert and to me, it’s a blank canvas that you can paint with any flavors. Lately I have been studying Middle eastern-Persian flavors. So decided to add the persian flavors to the panna Cotta and it turned out to be the best panna cotta I have ever had. The key is in balancing the flavors and not let any one flavor take over. It’s mild, creamy with the crunch of praline. Heaven !!
Persian cuisine is rich with aromatic herbs like mint, basil, parsley, and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg. You will find generous use of fruits such as orange, figs, prunes, and almonds, pistachio nuts. Like India, Persian food is influenced by flavors surrounding countries such as Afganistan, Pakistan, Turkey and even parts of Europe as it was part of the ancient silk route.
handful of pistachios cleaned and crushed
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
1 and 1/2 tsp rose water
a little red food color (I used water from boiled beets)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp or 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 tbsp cold water
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half
7-8 cardamom pods
a couple of saffron strands
1/3 cup sugar
Sprinkle gelatin over water and let it sit and bloom.
In a heavy saucepan, heat the cream, half and half and sugar together. Open each cardamom pod a little and add to the pot. Heat it on med heat close to boil but not boiling. Add the 1 tbsp bloomed gelatin. Mix well until the gelatin is dissolved. Strain and then add the saffron strands. Cool down.
In another small pan, combine ingredients for syrup – sugar, rosewater and water over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, stir for 1 minute until sugar dissolves. Add the food color and mix well until you get a light rose color.
For Praline, line a baking tray with parchment paper. Spread the pistachios. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to the boil, then cook, without stirring, until you get the desired color. Pour the syrup over the pistachios immediately and let it chill for an hour. Break the Praline into crystals or pieces.
To set, take 8 individual bowls, add the rose syrup at the bottom, let it chill in the freezer until it gets thick. Divide the panna Cotta mixture in the 8 bowls and put it back in fridge this time.
For serving, damp the bowls in warm water for 3 seconds, run a knife around and see it will come out and turn upside down on a plate. Top with the pistachio crystals and rose petals.
Tip – If you want to make a single large panna cotta, increase the amount of gelatin by 1/2 tbsp.