Thursday, May 25, 2006

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Strawberry Compote

Lindt Chocolate

There are three blocks of dark chocolate sitting in my pantry and they have been sitting there for weeks. Well actually there are now only two. Which got me thinking about the countless number of times when I have been inspired to make a dish, so much so that I then go and buy the ingredients and then when I get home I somehow lose all that inspiration that I had in the first place. Where does it all go?

Well the inspiration to make something out of these blocks of chocolate had been lost in an abyss somewhere never to return and those blocks have been left sitting there for weeks, I even forgot what I was so stirred up to make. These untouched blocks of chocolate goodness were staring me in the face and each time I opened the pantry door I would be overcome by guilt, it was all too much. To add to this guilt, I also had a carton of unopened milk in the fridge and a punnet of strawberries that were about to spoil if not eaten immediately. It’s the kind of guilt your parents placed on you as a child, “Don’t waste your food, think of those starving children in Africa.” Well my concern for those starving children in Africa inspired me to make something, if now I could only share it with them.

To avoid gratuitous food-spoilage I decided to make Chocolate Panna Cotta with Strawberry Compote. In most kitchens and restaurants, the underlying intent is to use the freshest ingredients possible, sourced, cooked and eaten that very same day. However the philosophy dictating my kitchen at recent times has been the “cook it before it decomposes” principle. It’s sad, but it’s true. And sadly this recipe was exactly that case. However in my opinion, they tasted just as good as if they were bought and made that day, and technically the milk still had two days to go before it was past its prescribed use-by date.

Chocolate Pannacotta with Strawberry Coulis

I got the recipe for the Chocolate Panna Cotta in Gourmet Traveller’s
Chocolate publication. In my haste I got the measurements for the gelatine wrong so they did not set as firmly as desired, they were barely holding their shape, but this did not affect its taste. The recipe also had an accompaniment of strawberry sauce for the panna cotta, although it required a tablespoon of kirsch, which at the time I didn’t have or let alone knew what it was. (Now I do know that kirsch is a cherry flavoured liqueur made from black cherries.) So due to a lack of kirsch in my kitchen I decided to make strawberry compote instead. It’s best to make the compote while the panna cottas stand, then it will also have time to infuse.

Strawberry Compote

1 punnet strawberries, trimmed and halved
¼ cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Whisk together orange juice, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Pour mixture over strawberries in a bowl and set aside to macerate until panna cotta is ready to serve.


Joycelyn said...

hi jen, what lovely use of your stash of chocolate - i'm a huge fan of panna cotta, and yours looks simply divine!

Jen said...

J- Thanks, this was my first attempt at panna cotta, but it will definitely not be my last!