Friends, I know it seems like I'm always saying "[...] is one of my all-time favorite desserts", and before those words lose their polish, I'd ask you to hear me out once more. Panna cotta is (truly) one of my all-time favorite desserts. In fact, I think it's just about the most perfect sweet thing for summer. It's rich but not heavy. It's cold and refreshing, and you don't have to do much work aside from stirring a few ingredients together on the stove top.
This version is served in shot glasses and topped with schnapps-spiked peach puree (yu-um!). I finished the shots with fresh mint leaves and beautiful little spheres of gourmet sugar from Chambre de Sucre.
Whenever I make a dessert that contains gelatin, I can count on someone asking for a vegan/vegetarian substitution. I've been looking for a good vegetable-based gel for a while now, for 1.) those dear readers, and 2.) myself. Even though I'm no purist, I'd rather use non animal-derived gelatin for my baked goods and desserts. Why? -mostly because standard powdered gelatin has an unpleasant odor when bloomed and heated - an animal by-product smell that is not appetizing at all.
I recently picked up a box of dessert jel that exclaims, Gluten Free! Vegan! Unsweetened! All Natural! All those exclamation points made me a little wary, but it's the best substitute I've tried thus far. It's made from vegetable starches and very easy to use. You stir the jel powder into two cups of cold liquid, then bring it to a boil on the stove-top; pour the liquid into a mold (or glasses) then refrigerate to set. It's that easy! There are a few cons that I should point out, too. Much like agar-agar, high acid fresh fruits will inhibit gelling - like pineapple, mango or grapefruit (for which I can personally attest).
I'm still experimenting with this gel in other desserts, like mousses and jelly candies, but I really loved it in this panna cotta. You can find boxes of Natural Desserts Unflavored Jel Dessert at some organic food shops, here online, or in bulk on Amazon. I can't say I will completely stop using gelatin in my baking, but if the vegan jel can do the job, I will certainly opt to use it instead.
*This is not a sponsored post, I just really like the product.
The sugar pearl on top of this dessert is optional, but it's a neat element because it soaks up some of the peach juice from the puree. When eaten, it sort of falls apart on the tongue and releases a hit of super-sweet-peachy flavor. If you can't find spherical sugar, then cubed sugar should work just the same (and it's easier to find!).
Sucre stripey spoons can be purchased from Hey Yo Yo.
Peaches and Cream Panna Cotta Shots
[click for printable version]
Source: SprinkleBakes original recipe
Prep: 30 minutes; chill 1-2 hours
Yield: twelve 30 ml shots or six 60 ml shots
I found that the larger (60 ml) shots are best served with a little spoon, but smaller shots can be served with a wooden pick to help release the panna cotta from the sides of the glass - then the whole dessert can be taken as one shot. I personally like to savor dessert for as long as possible, so eat both large and small versions with a spoon.
1 1/2 cups (363g, 12 3/4 oz.) milk or full-fat half and half
1/2 cup (115g, 4 1/2 oz.) heavy cream
0.3 oz (10g) packet Natural Desserts Unflavored Jel Dessert
or 1/4 oz. package powdered gelatin (**see bottom of recipe for prep with gelatin)
1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml.) vanilla extract
- Place the milk and heavy cream in a medium saucepan. Beat dessert jel into the cold cream mixture with a whisk until dissolved and no lumps remain. Whisk in granulated sugar.
- Place saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until boiling. Let boil for 1 minute and remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Immediately transfer liquid to a 4 cup measure with a spout.
- Divide the liquid evenly between the shot glasses - do this quickly, as the dessert jel is quick-setting. Transfer glasses to the refrigerator and chill until firm.
Spiked peach puree/toppings
12 oz. sliced peaches, fresh or frozen and thawed
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) peach schnapps
2 tablespoons (24g) granulated sugar *optional
6-12 mint leaves for garnish
6 -12 sugar spheres or cubes
- Place peaches and peach schnapps in a blender or food processor and blend until pureed. Taste-test the puree for sweetness; if sugar is needed, add 1 tablespoon at a time until desired sweetness is achieved (if using in-season peaches, you may not need any extra sugar). Process mixture again until sugar granules are completely dissolved.
- Spoon peach puree over the set panna cotta in the shot glasses. Garnish each shot with a mint leaf and sugar sphere/cube. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Cover leftovers with plastic wrap and refrigerate.