Saturday, 5 July 2014

Peach Leaf Pannacotta

It was about 20 years ago that I first made peach leaf ice cream, amazed to discover that these simple long mid green leaves render up a bitter almond flavour, not unlike that of a good amaretto biscuit. The other day I thought the same technique of steeping peach leaves in scalded milk would work as a flavour for pannacotta. Now I far prefer making pannacotta with a mix of milk and double cream, I think it produces a lighter end product with a delicate texture, especially if you disregard the instruction on the packets of gelatin or vegetarian gelling agent and put in 75% of the recommended amount, in this case 3 rather than the recommended 4 sheets of gelatin. I also think it's far easier to pour the pannacotta into small serving bowls so that you can top them with whatever you wish thus avoiding the task of unmoulding them. 

Happy to welcome Martinique, bringing the number up to 131
For this recipe you will need;

300ml of double cream
300ml of full fat milk
7 peach leaves
3 gelatin leaves (4 being recommended to set 600ml)
30gm of sugar
A pinch of salt

Bring the milk to just under the boil in a small saucepan and place in the washed peach leaves, I have my own peach tree so I know the leaves have not been sprayed with any insecticide but do check. Allow the leaves to steep in the hot milk for 10 minutes, you may need to experiment with the timing but I find 10 minutes produces a subtle flavour avoiding too much bitterness. I add the sugar and salt at this point and taste to see what I think. Sweetening the mix allows you a more accurate sense of whether or not you need to put the leaves back in for a few minutes more. Bring the milk back up to scalding, just under a boil, and add the gelatin leaves (or vegetarian gelling agent) having soaked the leaves in cold water for a couple of minutes. Stir to ensure the gelatin completely dissolves, add the cream, stir well and share between 4 dessert bowls, leaving enough room to place a small amount of topping on each just prior to serving.

I served these with a compote of rhubarb and raspberry. My early strawberries have finished and my late ones have yet to fruit. My rhubarb is still going strong and since I have it in a flower bed I like how the leaves look but thinning out three stalks was sufficient to make a small mount of topping with 200gm of raspberries, the last of the early variety grown here. I stew the rhubarb with a little sugar for a few minutes until softened then pour in the raspberries but don't stir them until the rhubarb has cooled completely, This way the raspberries remain reasonably intact when served.       

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