It may seem like I have a slight obsession with brown sugar lately, especially after I made brown lemonade – the last time I made panna cotta I decided to sub white sugar with its brown alternative. Apart from giving the end product a different aftertaste, the use of brown sugar gave my panna cotta also a nice light brown colour. Panna cotta, which may go by the name of Italian custard, is a cream-based dessert that originates from the Italian region of Piemonte, my home region. It is probably my favourite dessert if I were to pick one from the culinary tradition of the part of Italy I grew up in.
Panna cotta can be served with various sauces, most commonly fruit coulis. My favourite version is with caramel. Using cane sugar will include that light caramel taste without the need to add any sauces. The sugar I used this time is a type that in Sweden is called Brun Farin Strö. It is made of sugar crystals and dark cane sugar syrup, so technically it is a refined type, darkened with syrup. It is the syrup that gives it an interesting taste and vivid colour. You can already imagine how much this can potentially stain something as white as panna cotta!
Brown sugar panna cotta:
- 250 ml heavy cream
- 50 ml full-fat milk
- 60 g brown sugar
- 5 g gelatin sheets
This is a “smaller” version of the recipe. Traditionally, panna cotta recipes call for at least 500 ml of cream. I was expecting one guest so I had to serve only a party of three so I figured that we didn’t need that much and went for a reduced amount. White sugar is a tad sweeter than brown sugar, so I recommend lowering the sugar does to 50 g if making the traditional version, still following this recipe. Brown sugar will require that half teaspoon more.
Panna cotta is basically a gelatin with milk recipe. Soak the gelatin in a bowl of cold water and warm up the milk in a small saucepan. When the milk is about to boil (but don’t let it reach boiling temperature or it will froth), remove it from the heat, drain the gelatin and add it to the milk. Stir until it dissolves, then set aside. In another saucepan combine cream and sugar and warm up stirring to dissolve the sugar. Again, remove from the heat just before it boils. Pour in the milk and gelatine mixture, give it one final good stir and pour mixture into single-serving containers, like those adorable jars.
Let the panna cotta cool to room temperature, then transfer to the fridge. It will firm up as it cools. A minor gelatin deposit on the bottom of the container can occur and is more than normal (you can see from the pictures that it actually did happen to me). It may depend on the quality of the gelatin, next time I use the same type I might just add 1 gram less.
The inspiration to use those mini glass jars for my panna cotta is a homage to how it is served at Pinchos, which is a Swedish chain of restaurants that specialize in tiny appetizers and tapas and is also one of my favourite eateries in Falun. I have the feeling I should blog about Pinchos at some point, because I really enjoy eating there.