The great thing about panna cotta, which literally translates to cooked cream, is that it can be made in advance. The perfect simplicity of this dish lends itself well to a delicate infusion of lemongrass stalks and a sauce of springtime strawberries macerated in basil and crystalized ginger.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours
Ginger-Basil Macerated Strawberries
2 cups quartered strawberries
3 tablespoons minced crystalized ginger
3 packed tablespoons basil leaves, cut into chiffonade slices
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon raw sugar
Lightly spray 8 ramekins or cups and place on a baking tray.
Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and add in the lemongrass stalk. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn off the heat.
Let infuse for 30 minutes. Strain the lemongrass from the cream and then rewarm the mixture.
Sprinkle gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Pour cream mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Strain through a fine mesh sieve and divide the mixture into the prepared cups, tightly cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and chill until firm, at least 3 hours, but ideally overnight.
An hour before serving, mix together the ingredients for the strawberry sauce and let stand 1 hour, lightly stirring every 20 minutes or so.
To serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of each panna cotta and unmold onto dessert plates. Serve with macerated strawberries.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont