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Espresso Panna Cotta & Caramelized Sugar
Happy New Year!
First post of the year is a pick-me-up. Bold. Delicious. Made with ease. My wish for all of your 2020!
Panna cotta is reminiscent of custard for those who have never tried it. The exception is that it isn’t a custard at all. It’s a gelatinized mixture of milk, cream, sugar, and flavor. In terms of flavor profile, the possibilities are endless. My favorites are butterscotch/caramel, and ESPRESSO. Both of those flavors get a clean non-diluted delivery unlike some custard desserts that, although tasty, can be succumb to the extra ingredients that go into making a custard.
This dessert in particular is silky smooth, light, and depending on your use of the espresso caramel I’ve paired with it, not too sweet. It’s a quick, no-fuss dessert, and maybe even a crowd-pleaser. The only aversion here is that someone may not like the actual thought of a milk-based dessert. This may sound picky, but throughout my tenure, I’ve run into a great many aversions and allergies. The dessert is creamy, but not indicative of milk or cream itself. I guess you could say we borrow texture from the dairy, but the flavor of choice truly comes through.
My love for coffee based desserts shines through on this one. You’ll be preparing a triple strength espresso that will be used for the caramel as well as the espresso panna cotta. Worry not. The espresso isn’t overpowering at all. Flavoring milk and cream takes some punch. If you are concerned, then brew only double strength. You could also get some of that put-hair-on-your-nipples coffee from Starbucks. Your choice! (Starbucks makes some wonderful stuff. Their regular brew tends to be rather overpowering for me making a bucket of water the only acceptable antidote.)
ESPRESSO PANNA COTTA Note: If you are using molds that you eventually want to release the panna cotta from (kinda like a Jell-O mold, it helps to add your warm mixture in Step 3 to a wet mold. Simply rinse your glass or porcelain mold with water before filling with the liquid.
1/2 cup double strength espresso, freshly brewed
3 Tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp gelatin powder
Over low heat, pour the espresso, sugar, and cream into a medium saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar. It should dissolve quickly considering the mixture is somewhat warm. While the mixture is heating to a gentle boil, pour 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top of it. You want the powder completely immersed in the water. Let it rest until ready to use.Once the cream begins to bubble, remove it from the heat and add the hydrated gelatin. Stir to dissolve completely. Pour the mixture into molds. Allow to set in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours.