Pannacotta with Vanilla Rhubarb
One of the most versatile desserts is an Italian pannacotta, with a soft creamy texture, it is easy to pair with stewed fruit, a coulis, chocolate or just simply wild berries. Here I’ve decided to compliment it with some poached forced rhubarb, a sharp flavour but matches the vanilla extremely well.
I’ve turned the rhubarb juice into a jelly with the extra gelatine leaves, however mix it with some rosewater, lemonade and you have an extremely refreshing and spring-time drink.
Forced rhubarb is now in season, between January and March, until the outdoor-grown rhubarb takes over. Try to choose pert looking stems and avoid any limp or slimy-looking stems. To prepare the rhubarb, simply was and trim the tops and bottoms, making sure to discard the leaves as they are poisonous.
Pannacotta with Vanilla Rhubarb
For the Pannacotta:
- 500ml Double Cream
- 250ml Milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
- 4½ Gelatine Leaves
- 160½g caster sugar
- 2/3 vanilla pods
For the Rhubarb:
- 200-250g of Rhubarb, prepared, trimmed and cut into equal pieces (just under 1inch)
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 Vanilla pods
- 2 Gelatine Leaves (*optional: to make jelly afterwards)
- Place the milk and cream together in a heavy based pan. Scrape the vanilla seeds out of the pods and then place with the cream mixture, along with the pods. Heat gently until simmer.
- Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water. After 5-10 minutes, take the cream mixture off the heat and remove the vanilla pods. Take the gelatine leaves out of the water, and whisk in, one by one, into the cream mixture.
- Pour into a wide dish and cling film, and set in fridge, preferably overnight.
For the rhubarb:
- Place the chopped rhubarb in a tall and deep bucket, along with the sugar and vanilla seeds and pods. Give it good mix and then seal tightly with cling-film (I used the mixing dish from my Kenwood electric mixer as it is easier to seal without any handles on it). You can get the same effect from using a large mixing bowl.
- Place in a large saucepan of water, and secure down with weight on top of the rhubarb bowl (to stop it from floating on top of the water instead of being submerged, see picture above).
- Poach for an hour, or until soft checking halfway and giving it a gentle stir. You don’t want to break up the rhubarb into fibrous strands, but at the same time you want even cooking.
- Drain the rhubarb carefully, retaining that beautiful juice to make jelly or drinks etc. and set to cool in fridge.
- To make the jelly, heat up the juice gently on a low heat, and then take it off the heat to stir pre-soaked gelatine leaves. Pour into a shallow dish and set in fridge.
Use a ring cutter to cut out portions of the pannacotta, and spoon the rhubarb next to or on top of the pannacotta and serve immediately.
Tips and Tricks:
- Make sure the rhubarb is cut equally for even cooking, just under 1 inch pieces are fine.
- Wrap the bowl entirely with cling-film. You don’t want to get any water inside or steam out.
- Alternatively you can serve this dessert in glasses to wow your guests. Complete the recipe above, but cook the rhubarb first. Pour in the jelly mixture at the bottom of the glasses and set in fridge. Once set, pour in the pannacotta and again, set in fridge. Serve with the cooked rhubarb on-top with small baby mint leaves. Bellissimo!
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