Saturday, July 3, 2010

A failed experiment, a sweet finish

I'm not much of a dessert person - I often find sweet things a bit too cloying. Sweet drinks, sweet foods - if there's too much sugar, I start longing for fries. But there are times when a dessert knocks it out of the park for me. For instance, I love desserts with berries and biscuits and cream.

My personal favorite tends towards the strawberry-rhubarb combo, since it's somehow tart and sweet at the same time. I also love different textures in my desserts and when I'm out at a restaurant, I usually want to try something I don't know how to make at home. That's why I've always been intrigued by panna cotta. It's light-tasting and not too sweet. It's super-smooth and it seems like you can do anything with it. Lavender panna cotta? Sure! Why not? Espresso? Sage? Basil? Go for it! And it always seemed so hard to make. But when I recently saw a panna cotta recipe from a favorite blogger La Tartine Gourmande, it looked gorgeous and so darn easy. It only had about 8 ingredients and a few easy steps, so I thought what the heck, I'll try it. Well, I have to say that it didn't work out as well as I'd hoped. The flavor was actually pretty good, but the texture was off. I don't think it set quite right and even though on top, it looked like it had, when you dug in, it was a little grainy. So I guess I'll have to keep trying. In the meantime, though, the topping we made to go with it was actually really good, so here's the recipe. It would go well on ice cream or yogurt and, in theory, panna cotta. So if you've got a good recipe or tips on how to make a successful panna cotta, I'm all ears. In the meantime, I'll be sticking to ordering it at restaurants.


4-5 stalks rhubarb, chopped into 1/4 in. pieces
1 1/2 quarts strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon corn starch
crystallized ginger

Simmer first four ingredients together on the stove until fruit is tender. Let sit on stove to cool and thicken. Spoon compote onto ice cream or yogurt and top with crystallized ginger to taste.

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