Desserts – Caramel Pannacotta
Much as I loved my inner northern digs, in the eclectic household with mosaic floors and fruit trees and artworks and a lovely dog and the overwhelming noise of trains that roared past, the time to move came when my housemate announced her own seachange to gentler climes.
I’m going to miss that house a lot. Still, there’s no point looking backwards – the future is here and it carries with it a new locale, a new housemate and a new way of doing things. Gone is the emphasis on meat-free eating, the careless placement of objects, the large collection of beautiful artisanal china plates and bowls to work with. Now I have a spa-like bathroom, two boofy dogs for company and joy of joys, a fabulous steel and shiny kitchen with a six-burner hob.
And I have a housemate with a definite thing for caramel. Caramel votive candles that is.
My experiences with smelly candles begin and end with those given to me from a school Mothers’ Day stall one year and the rather unfortunate event that followed when I took to a large and deep bath, reclined against the shelf where the candles were burning and dozed off only to be woken with hot wax dripping into my hair. There was much screaming and yelping, an almighty mess as water and melted wax went everywhere and a vow never to burn the bloody things again.
As much as I like to think I’m an accommodating soul, I’m also one with an ulterior motive. I firmly believe caramel should be eaten, not used as a room deodorizer. To convince the most hardened of candle-burning fans, I give you this pannacotta. Truly, it is a feast for all your senses.
And now let us brook no argument.
200g sugar; 1 ½ tbsp water; 500ml (2 cups) cream; ½ tsp vanilla extract; 2 leaves gelatine, OR 2 tsp gelatine powder, dissolved in 2 tbsp boiling water
Place 100g or half the sugar in a small saucepan and add the water. Place the saucepan over a medium heat and, tilting the pan from side to side, allow the sugar to melt and brown. Don’t stir it until the sugar has melted completely, just keep tilting it gently over the heat. This melting process should take five minutes, so DON’T go anywhere while you’re in the midst of this critical step.
When the caramel is golden and a the consistency of maple syrup, remove it from the heat immediately.
Pour the caramel evenly into four ¾ cup ramekins and swirl the caramel around the base and half way up the sides of the ramekins. At this stage, the syrup may well harden like toffee. Fear not, it will soften into the pannacotta, I promise.
Place the cream, remaining sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 2 minutes then remove from heat.
Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for five minutes until they are soft and jelly like. Squeeze out the excess water. If you are using gelatine powder, add the powder to the boiling water and stir well to dissolve.
Add the gelatine (either the squeezed out leaves or the dissolved powder and warm water) to the hot cream mixture and stir well to completely combine. Pour the hot cream into the prepared caramel-lined ramekins. Chill overnight or for at least six hours.
To serve, pour some boiling water into a small bowl. Immerse the ramekins into this bath so the hot water comes half way up the sides for about twenty seconds. Run a warm butter knife around the edge of the pannacotta. Place a small plate over each ramekin then up-end them onto the plate and allow the now melted caramel to ooze onto the plate. Serve at once.
$3.80 for four large pannacottas (or six small ones) using gelatine powder