A delightful dessert for two, this light, smooth, cardamom coconut panna cotta is accompanied by crunch from some leftover turmeric cake.
I read the Momfuku Milk Bar book and fell inspired by Christina Tosi’s philosophy of using all sorts of things from your pantry and freezer in your baked goods. The idea of repurposing leftovers speaks to me, because I really dislike wasting food. It is one of the main reasons why I bake in small quantities as much as possible and without resorting to using 1/4th of an egg because really the quantity of egg decides how small my baking project will be. Trust me it is a pain to measure out 1 ½ tbsp of egg for something. I have tried.
One of the first google searches I did when I was tinkering with the idea of starting a blog was “what do food bloggers do with excess food”, coming in after “how do food bloggers stay fit?” Well I did not find any satisfactory answers to both questions. I suppose everyone tackles it in their own way. So, I picked going small where my baking was concerned. We are two people so I had to think about how much dessert we can go through in a week. Since this is firstly a cakes and cookies blog, I had to consciously decide to only blog once a week and bake in small quantities. I am happy I made these choices. My freezer at any given time has only a few cake scraps from cutting off the tops and swiss or Italian buttercream because those I prefer to make a big batch.
Once in a while there is more cake than I would like to have in the freezer and that’s when I think of repurposing ideas. The book has encouraged me to try more things. So, I took out my cake leftovers and turned them into crumbs. Let me tell you, if you haven’t made crumbs yet, you must try it because it is basically crunchy cake that you can throw onto other things or throw into your mouth. It is addictive. I made around one cup of cake crumbs from a chocolate cake and ate the whole bag while working.
I also made cake crumbs from leftovers of that beautiful Golden Milk Turmeric cake and I was thinking of what to throw it on. I knew it had to be flavors like cardamom or coconut or plain vanilla. Something subtle and delicate because the crumb itself has a light flavor. So once again inspired by the Milk Bar book, I decided to make a panna cotta. Ok, I’ll admit that I have been thinking of making panna cotta for a long time, but you have to agree that it is a bit lack lustre compared to a layered cake or chocolate cookies. So, it stayed on my list but never made it into the kitchen… until now. It just seemed right. I had to do 3 tries before I got it right. For some reason the recipe in the book did not work for me. I think it is because I used low fat regular milk and the Milk Bar recipe does not call for cream. So I adapted this recipe from The Kitchn. I like that since there is no egg here, I could really scale it down and make just two panna cottas because this should not sit around in the fridge for a long time or it will go rubbery. It may not be as exciting and scrumptious and Instagram-mable as a multi-tiered cake, but it is perfect when you want a small light, delicate, not-too-sweet dessert for two.
What I learnt
- The panna cotta is a delicate dish. You must get the ratios of liquid to gelatin right or it will either turn out rubbery or it won’t set completely and when you try to invert it onto a dish, it will come crashing down instead of falling gracefully.
- Use full fat milk or the panna cotta will come crashing down instead of falling gracefully.
- Do not go away while milk and gelatin are heating and let it boil or the gelatin will lose its thickening powers and the panna cotta will come crashing down instead of falling gracefully.
Ok now that I have mentioned some of the ways that your panna cotta can be a disaster, I feel like I have achieved something today.
Cardamom Coconut Panna Cotta and Turmeric Cake Crumb
Makes 2 cute panna cotta
For the Panna Cotta
1/3 + 2tbsp coconut milk or regular milk
1 tsp gelatin
1 tbsp + 1 tsp granulated sugar
1/3 + 2 tbsp heavy or whipping cream
1/4 tsp cardamom
Pinch of salt
Very lightly grease two ramekins with flavorless oil. Wipe out any excess oil.
Pour the milk in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the surface of the milk. Let soften for a few minutes until the surface is wrinkly.
Warm the saucepan over low-medium heat, whisking frequently. The milk should be quite warm. If it is heated too much, the gelatin will be ruined and the panna cotta will not set. So stay close and watch closely. Dip a spoon in the milk and check the back for any grains of gelatin.
Add the sugar and cardamom, continue to warm and whisk till sugar is dissolved. Again, don’t heat the concoction too much.
Remove saucepan from heat, whisk in the cream and a tiny pinch of salt.
Pour into the moulds, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 6-8 hours or preferably overnight.
To unmould, dip the ramekins upto its rim in a bowl of hot water, run a think knife around the sides of the ramekin to loosen the panna cotta. Invert over a serving plate and tap the bottom lightly. If it does not fall out easily, dip it back in the hot water for a few seconds. Repeat till it falls out onto the plate.
For the Cake Crumb
I used some leftover turmeric cake. You can use whatever cake you can find in your freezer. Obviously NOT cakes with frosting.
Heat oven to 200F. Crumble frozen cake onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread it evenly. Bake for 1 hour. Let cool completely. Crumble into smaller pieces if needed to serve with the panna cotta.
The cake crumbs can be stored in an airtight container for upto 2 weeks.
Notes: The panna cotta should be eaten within two days as the gelatin gets stronger and will make it rubbery.
The panna cotta recipe is adapted from The Kitchn