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Friday 13 April 2012

Sluttishly Sweet: Coconut Panna Cotta with Ginger and Lemongrass

Panna cotta was another dessert that I had imagined would be a bit tricky and quite frankly a right faff to make, oh how wrong I was! It was really easy and I can't believe it's taken me so long to give them a go. The vanilla helps bring out the coconut flavour creating this really silky, melt in your mouth bit of coconutty joy! I'm all for timesaving tips so the ginger and lemongrass sauce could not be any easier.

My fella really hates coconut so I never get to make anything that uses it (although I do sneak a bit in here and there) but I was so pleased with these that I made asked him nicely to try a bit, he finished off 2 of them there and then!

You'll need:
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 250ml coconut cream
  • 150ml double cream
  • 150g vanilla sugar
  • 6 x 20g leaves of gelatine 
  • 1 jar stem ginger in syrup
  • 1 stalk fresh lemon grass
Make it!
  1. Cut your lemongrass into thirds, bash with something heavy to open it up a bit (but not smashing it to pieces) then squeeze them into your jar of stem ginger, give the jar a bit of a shake then leave, preferably somewhere sunny. The longer you leave it the better, preferably overnight.
  2. Put your coconut milk, cream, double cream and sugar into a sauce pan and warm. Meanwhile put your gelatine leaves into cold water and leave for 5 minutes. Just before your cream reaches boiling point remove from the heat. Squeeze all excess water out of your gelatine leaves then stir them into your cream. Leave for 2 minutes stirring occasionally.
  3. Pour your cream mixture into your Dariole moulds (I don't have any so I used various tea cups, mini jelly moulds and a cocktail glass!) and leave to cool before putting in the fridge to set for a minimum of 2 hours but overnight is fine and gives your syrup time to infuse. Just make sure that you cover them loosely with some cling film otherwise they'll take on the smells of your fridge (eggs do this too which is why you shouldn't keep them in your fridge either).
  4. When set, run a knife just around the top of your panna cotta then put the mould/container into a bowl of boiling water for about 10 seconds before carefully turning out onto a plate. If it doesn't want to come out pop it back into the hot water for another 10 seconds and try again. it should have what I call The Boob Wobble when gently agitated.
  5. Pour your ginger and lemongrass over the panna cotta (through a tea strainer if there are little bits of lemongrass in it).

If you can't wait overnight for your ginger and lemongrass to infuse you can pour the syrup into a saucepan with the bashed lemongrass, warm it until just hot then turn off the heat and let it sit until completely cold before straining. Stem ginger will keep for ages without its syrup as it is already preserved but it is really good added to any chocolate cake or brownie.

If you can't find any vanilla sugar in the shops don't worry it's much better to make your own.  There are 2 ways to make it really, you could either use the seeds from a vanilla pod in a recipe then put the remaining pods into a big airtight jar and cover with caster sugar and leave for at least 2 weeks. Or the quick method is to cut the whole pods in half and blitz them in your food processor, scrape the seeds off the sides then add granulated sugar and blitz a couple of times to mix- instant vanilla sugar!

I toasted some fresh coconut slivers to decorate, just use a vegetable peeler to thinly slice some fresh coconut then put them in a hot oven for a minute to brown (careful though this happens very quickly so keep an eye on them!).

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