Today is a very exciting Famous Fridays around here! Not only I am posting the first panna cotta recipe ever on the blog, but I'm also celebrating the amazing, multi-award winning pastry chef, Johnny Iunnizi!! Johnny is a guru in the baking world. He's cooked at some of the most famous restaurants in the world, like Daniel and Restaurant Jean Georges, been awarded "Pastry Chef of the Year" by the James Beard Foundation and "Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America" by Pastry Arts and Design for two years in a row and has also been a head judge on Bravo's "Top Chef: Just Desserts". In addition, he's written 2 baking cookbooks, Dessert Fourplay and Sugar Rush, which is where I found this wonderfully creamy, elegant, but easy-to-make, Roasted White Chocolate Panna Cotta!
If you want to learn to bake or improve your baking skills, as well as find some killer recipes, Sugar Rush is right up your alley. The book is organized into 9 categories: Custards and Creamy Desserts; Eggs and Meringue; Caramel; Cakes; Cupcakes, Brownies and Muffins; Cookies; Tea Cakes and Biscuits; Tarts, Cobblers and Crisps; Yeast Doughs; Glazes, Frosting, Fillings and Sauces and Building a Balanced Dessert and throughout the book, Johnny explains the fundamentals for each of these sections and gives you helpful hints as well as the science behind why it's important to use cold butter in a pie crust or to make sure that eggs are at room temperature for certain cakes. Plus, there are gorgeous pictures--if you're looking for a great present this holiday season for someone who likes to bake, this is a book that is guaranteed not to collect dust on the shelf!
But back to this panna cotta. People who know me would think a white chocolate-based dessert an odd choice in a book filled with amazing choices since I'm normally not a huge fan of white chocolate. But I've always wanted to make a panna cotta and this recipe jumped out at me. And I'm so glad it did--the roasting takes away some of the overly sugary sweetness of the white chocolate, leaving you with an almost nutty, caramel-y flavor. These little individual puddings are chichi enough to serve at a fancy dinner party but simple enough to make for a weeknight treat!
You start by roasting the chocolate until it turns a nutty brown color and looks a lot like lumpy wet sand.
Next you combine milk with gelatin, eventually heating it and finally combining it with that roasted chocolate.
All that's left to do is whisk in some heavy cream and then transfer to ramekins.
After the puddings have chilled a few hours or overnight, you unmold them and serve them upside down. The bottoms (now the tops) get deliciously dark and caramelized, creating an eye-catching visual with the lighter lower half. Each bite is silky smooth and intensely, complexly flavorful--hard to believe there are only 5 simple ingredients at play here.
You can eat them as is or top with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Comfort food at its best! So have a great holiday weekend and fill it with family, friends, fun and good food--perhaps some treats from Sugar Rush?!! And just a little heads up--I'll be traveling this holiday, so no post on Monday, but I'll be back on Tuesday morning with some great new fall food!!
Johnny Iuzzini's Roasted White Chocolate Panna Cotta-Famous Fridays
Makes 6 six-ounce portions
Prep Time: 1 1/2 hours (only about 20 minutes active time); Chilling Time: At least 2 hours and preferably overnight
- 8 ounces good quality white chocolate, chopped
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- Additional cream for making whipped cream (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 250ºF.
2. Put the chopped chocolate into a 8x11-inch or 9x13-inch glass baking dish and place into the oven. Using a rubber spatula, stir the chocolate every 10 minutes for about 1 hour, until the mixture turns a nutty brown color and has the consistency of wet sand. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the roasted chocolate to the parchment paper to cool to room temperature. Then transfer to a heat-proof bowl and set aside.
3. Pour the milk into a wide saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over it. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. Then heat the milk over medium heat, whisking, until it just begins to boil. Add the salt and whisk until the gelatin is totally dissolved.
4. Pour about 1/3 of the mixture over the chocolate in the bowl and whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted. Add the remaining milk and whisk until everything is completely smooth. Then add the heavy cream and whisk until well combined. Let cool to room temperature.
5. Transfer the mixture to a pitcher or measuring cup with a spout. Pour evenly into six 6-ounce ramekins and place on a sheet pan. Pop any bubbles you see on the pudding surface with the tip of a knife. Cover each panna cotta individually tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate them on the pan until completely set and cold--at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.
6. To unmold the panna cotta, fill a small bowl with hot water and dip the bottom of each ramekin in the water for 10-15 seconds. Wipe the bottoms dry and invert onto a plate. If pudding won't come out, run a thin knife around the edge of the pudding and then invert onto plate. Serve immediately as is or with some sweetened whipped cream on top.
7. Leftover puddings can be refrigerated in the ramekins and well wrapped for up to 3 days.
Note: Recipe adapted from Sugar Rush by Johnny Iuzzini.