Wednesday, March 2, 2011

coconut panna cotta: i dreamt of magical things

Sometimes I really wish I didn't feel the need to sleep. There are so many things that I want to do but don't seem to have the time or energy to try everything. I'm always looking to start new craft projects, practice decorating patterns for work and bake, bake, bake as much as I can. But it doesn't always seem possible when I get home from work. I really don't know how some people manage to work, keep up with projects and maybe even attend to a family. I'm convinced they are not human. Aliens. That definitely seems like the only possible answer.

I, for one, love to sleep, but it isn't so much my love but my need for sleep that makes me get to bed at a decent hour for the hour I wake up at. My body can't seem to function properly without a sufficient amount of sleep in its system. But if I didn't have to sleep then I would have time to do so much more. 

Some projects I would like to explore:
Watercolour painting
Pinhole art
Softies made out of felt and fabric
Expand my photographic abilities
Learn how to web design (which requires knowing at least something about programming)
More cake decorating (gum paste flowers and such)
Learn as much as I can about patisserie

I think my problem is that I've always tried to do so much but never really fully dedicated myself to one thing completely. I guess I'm trying to change that slowly, though. I'm starting to learn that it's ok if I don't end up doing everything I've always (even briefly) wanted to do, but to at least know a few things really well. That's why I've been concentrating my efforts on patisserie and this blog for some time. Photography is something I'd really love to expand my knowledge on even more though. I guess I'll eventually get to those other projects whenever I have some spare time. But for now it's pastry business all the way!

I'll tell you one thing, even when I sometimes feel like I don't have a lot of time on my hands, there always seems to be something really easy that I can make. Honestly, panna cotta,  a light and refreshing Italian dessert, is probably the easiest thing anyone could ever make in just a couple of minutes. It only requires a couple of ingredients, which can simply be altered depending on the taste and consistency you want (a little honey instead of sugar, more milk, less cream or reduce both milk and cream and add plain yogurt after mixture is cool). There are so many flavour possibilities too. I had some coconut milk in my pantry so I decided to use that along with some poached cranberries, because again, that's what I had on hand. You can easily use any other fruit (or none at all). To be honest, I actually preferred it just plain without the poached fruit but it's your choice. Make it your own!

Coconut milk panna cotta

Recipe adapted from Tartelette
Yields 4-6 servings depending on size of ramekins 


For the panna cotta:

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp gelatin powder
2 tbsp cold water

For the poached cranberries:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup frozen or fresh cranberries (or any other fruit)
1 tbsp lemon juice

For the panna cotta: Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and set aside to bloom (expand) for a few minutes. In a medium sauce pan, bring the coconut milk, cream and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat. Melt the gelatin either in the microwave for 5 seconds or in a heat-proof bowl over the sauce pan where the heat of the just-boiled cream will melt the gelatin in a few seconds. Once liquid, immediately mix into the cream mixture. Pour mixture evenly into glasses or ramekins. Leave to cool at room temperature for about 15 minutes and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

For the cranberries: In a small saucepan, bring the water, sugar and lemon juice to a boil. Add the cranberries and simmer on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until soft. Remove them with a slotted spoon and continue thickening the syrup on medium heat for a couple of minutes until desired consistency. (Or you can just stop once the cranberries are soft for a more liquidy syrup). Divide among glasses on top of panna cottas and sprinkle some pieces of shredded coconut.

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