So you might have noticed that I haven’t posted in a little while.. But trust me I have a really good excuse. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to audition for Masterchef last Thursday, and so have spent all my spare time concocting a dish to wow the judges. I think I read every cook book and magazine I own, but eventually settled on a adaption of this Gourmet Traveller recipe for almond milk panna cotta. I’m not a fan of blackberries which the recipe calls for, so I decided to serve it with a raspberry and ginger flavoured ‘salad’ to demonstrate a multitude of skills. Needless to say they loved the dish. Unfortunately, as I worked briefly at a cafe helping out in the kitchen, I was unable to continue in my quest for Masterchef stardom. Shame. But good luck to everyone who made it, especially Mr E whom I met that day. Hope Saturday went well for you :)
You will need to start this recipe 2 days ahead.
ALMOND MILK PANNA COTTA
250g unblanched almonds
500ml + 440ml filtered water
30g white sugar
3 gelatine leaves (titanium strength), soaked in cold water OR 2 tsp gelatine powder
300ml pouring cream
100ml latte di mandorla*
55g (¼ cup) caster sugar
55g (1/3 cup) icing sugar, sieved
50g almond meal
60g butter, at room temperature
50g (1/4 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
60ml (1/4 cup) golden syrup
1 egg yolk
190g (1 1/4 cups) plain flour
1/2 tbs ground ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g frozen rasperries
60g caster sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp butter
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup soft butter (not melted)
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup plain flour, sifted
1 punnet fresh raspberries
- FOR THE PANNA COTTA: Place the almonds and 500ml of filtered water in a bowl to soak overnight. Be careful as the almonds will expand as they absorb the water. The next day, drain the almonds and process in a food processor with 440ml of filtered water until finely chopped. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing firmly to extract all the liquid. Discard solids. Makes about 1 1/4 cups of almond milk.
- Combine almond milk and sugar in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. If using powdered gelatine, add it with the sugar. Otherwise, squeeze excess water from gelatine, add to almond milk mixture and stir until gelatine dissolves. Remove from heat, add cream and latte di mandorla, stir to combine, then pour into 6 x 50ml-capacity lightly oiled dariole moulds and refrigerate overnight or until set.
- FOR THE ALMOND MERINGUES: Preheat oven to 100C. Using an electric mixer, whisk eggwhites and a pinch of salt on high speed until soft peaks form then, while whisking, gradually add caster sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold in icing sugar and almond meal, then spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle. Pipe 1cm high meringues onto a paper-lined baking tray and bake for 1 hour. Do not open the oven during this time as they will go sticky. Turn off oven and allow to cool completely in oven. Store in an airtight container until required or for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 60.
- FOR GINGER BISCUITS: Preheat oven to 180C. Cream butter and sugar together until pale. Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined. Stir in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Press dough into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. Once rested, roll dough out to 5mm thick and cut into rough squares approximately 5cm x 5cm. Bake on a lined tray for 10 minutes or until beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Take half the biscuits and process in a food processor to make a fine crumb mixture. Break the remaining biscuits into little pieces. Store in an air-tight container until needed.
- FOR THE RASPBERRY CURD: In a saucepan, gently heat the raspberries, sugar, lemon juice and butter to a gentle simmer. Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve. Allow to cool slightly before whisking in the egg yolks one at a time. Return to heat and whisk continuously until thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Transfer mix to a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle. Refrigerate until needed.
- FOR THE TUILES: Preheat oven to 175C. From a thick piece of A4 paper, cut out 12 x 4cm circles. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract until pale. Whisk in the egg whites a little at a time (don’t worry if it doesn’t completely come together). Sift in the flour a little at a time and continue whisking until you have a smooth batter. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up. Line a baking tray with baking paper (alternatively you can using a silicone mat) and lay your stencil in the center. Using a spatula, swipe a little of the batter over each circle. Carefully peel off the stencil before baking for 5-10 minutes or until the tuiles begin to brown. Allow to cool a little on trays before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process until all the batter is used up. Store in an air-tight container until needed.
- TO ASSEMBLE: Sprinkle a little of the ginger biscuit crumbs in a semi-circle to one side of a circular plate. Pipe two dollops of curd, 4cm apart in the center of the crumbs and stand a tuile in each, using a raspberry on each side to keep upright. Arrange meringues, fresh raspberries and ginger biscuit bits around tuiles, and pipe over dollops of raspberry curd. Sprinkle over a little of the ginger crumbs. Turn a panna cotta out in the center of the plate (dip the bottom into some hot water for a few seconds if it won’t come out) and serve immediately.
* Latte di mandorla from the Mediterranean Wholesalers (482 Sydney Rd, Brunswick, VIC 3056 (03) 9380 4777) Alternatively, you can use 1 1/2 tsp almond essence.