Panna Cotta Jewels

16 06 2009

Many moons ago, I bought five silicone molds at the market.  The main reason I did this was to get my hands on these gorgeous little jewel molds.  I could just imagine the elegant canapes and sophisticated dessert bites I would make, you know, for all those black-tie cocktail parties I host.  Since that is actually someone else’s life, the jewel molds languished on the shelf, passed over in favor of the domes or the muffin cups.  And then strawberry season rolled around.

Strawberries and lait ribot

And I was seized with the desire to make panna cotta.  I had some gelatin leaves in the cupboard, just waiting for me to come up with a reason for purchasing them.  And that reason came along when I bought too many strawberries one morning at the market – they were bright red, super fragrant, grown in France, and only 5 euros a kilo!  So I was faced with the challenge of how to eat a kilo of ultra-ripe strawberries before they went bad.  If only all challenges in life were this delicious.

Perfect, schmerfect

Panna cotta seemed like a good spring dessert – minimal effort, infinitely adaptable, and I could finally use my jewel molds!  Panna cotta is oddly named, in that it literally means “cooked cream” in Italian, though you can make it without doing any cooking at all.  For mine, I just blended some of those gorgeous strawberries with some lait ribot (a new favorite ingredient around here) because I love the way the milky tang of buttermilk acts in desserts, and I thought it would keep the whole thing very fresh and light on the palate.  Then I blended in some melted gelatin sheets, which immediately coagulated in the cold liquid.  No problem, a few short shots in the microwave and it was ready to pour into my molds.

Now what to serve them on?

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