Monday, November 1, 2010

Persimmon Panna Cotta--from the Greek Gods

Panna Cotta and Tiramisu certainly belong to the most popular Italian desserts. They are on many restaurants' menus, even those that are not Italian, like a good coffee, which everyone loves, regardless of the food that is served. There are many variations of Tiramisu. They all use Mascarpone cheese but differ in many other ingredients. The same happened to Panna Cotta, which has mutated into many versions and is served with many sauces. Last time, I had Panna Cotta in a small Italian restaurant in London's Portobello. I had a very good espresso and a very nice berry Panna Cotta. The fruit sauce was a little bit too sweet and strong, but since it was not an after-dinner dessert, but an afternoon snack, it did not seem too heavy after all and its richness was neutralized by a strong coffee.

I do not think I can come up with any new variation, that Italians do not know already, but as I pass a persimmon tree growing on my street and watch its fruits turning into more and more orange every day, I thought about making Panna Cotta with persimmon sauce.

Persimmons are acquired taste, but I do like their tomato-like look as well as their sweet and tart taste that stays on a tongue for a while. I eat them by pounds as any fruits, make salads and will try in more desserts. When I was about to leave Switzerland, Japanese persimmons (kakis) became very popular there and were often served with cheese platters instead of the traditionally used grapes, pears, or figs.

For this Panna Cotta recipe I combined cream with yogurt, to add contrast to the sweetness of the persimmons, which when ripe can be honey sweet. Here is my seasonal Panna Cotta variation with the sauce made of persimmons, which the ancient Greeks called Diospyros, that is the Fruit of the God. Let's try.

Persimmon Panna Cotta
(Makes 6 portions)

2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream,
1 cup Greek yogurt ( if you want to cut on calories 0 % fat will be suitable)
1/2 cup sugar,
2 tsp unflavored gelatin.
3 persimmons.

1. Sprinkle 2 tbsp water over the gelatin and let it stand for about 10 minutes.
2. Pour two cups of heavy whipping cream in a pot, add sugar, and heat on the medium heat until sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boiling point.
3. Take the pot off the heat, add gelatin, and stir until it dissolves in the cream.
4. In a separate bowl mix yogurt and the remaining 1/2 cup cream.
5. Add the hot cream to a yogurt mixture and gently combine.
6. Divide the cream over 6 individual ramekins and cool for minimum of 4 hours.

7. Peel off persimmons and puree them all but one half.
8. Take Panna Cotta from the ramekins (you may need to dip the ramekins in the hot water for 5-10 seconds) pour over the persimmon pure, decorate with persimmon slices and serve.

On the picture below I put just a little bit of sauce, but when I was eating it I added much more of it and Panna Cotta was even more delicious and the taste of the persimmons was more detectable.