Made By Mail: Elderflower Panna Cotta
At first it didn't feel like a cruel joke. I legitimately had no clue how to work with dried elderflower outside of cocktail infusions or ice cream. Knowing that food blogger Billy Green enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen, I had no doubt he would know exactly what to do. Off went a package and I waited with great floral anticipation.
Several hysterical g-chat messages and stinky stale tasting failed attempts later (black berry bars, white chocolate truffles, pavlova...the efforts to make this bag of nasty were admirable), Billy made it very clear that elderflower was one mean, inedible jerk.
In fact, I believe he actually used the word "which craft" to describe the ingredient's unruly (read undesirable) powers.
Sure enough he harnessed said powers in the name of all things good and in the end created quite the elegant dish.
The answer? Panna Cotta. We'll let him tell you about it himself...
Made By Mail :: Billy Green :: Wit & Vinegar
I was sent something that usually has just a couple of uses: dried elderflower. Straight up supposed to be used to make tea or elderflower liqueur but I was given specifics of no cocktails and no ice cream so all easy dreams were shattered.
I went out and experimented/failed with lemon bars, pavlova, and white chocolate truffles, and every one of them had an essence of (for lack of a better term) farts. Something about the combo of the dried elderflower and those ingredients means sulfury taste that I don’t like having in my mouth.
After all that I said screw it I’m infusing some cream and trying panna cotta and I’m so glad I did. Is it like ice cream? I guess, but not because it’s like jello and ice cream had a baby and I can top it with grapefruit and pistachios because it's California.
There’s a sort of floral note that goes insanely well with the grapefruit and the pistachio adds a nice change in texture. Overall this would be a great dessert to serve after any spring dinner and all of it can be made separately and assembled right before serving.
Elderflower Panna Cotta | Serves 6-8 depending on your ramekin sizes
- 1 quart half and half or 2 cups each heavy cream and whole milk
- 2-1/4 oz packages gelatin
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon dried elderflower
- grapefruit segments
- chopped pistachios
In a medium sized saucepan sprinkle gelatin over 1 cup of the half and half and let soften for 5 min. Whisk in sugar and elderflower and warm to just below a simmer so the gelatin and sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat and let the elderflower steep for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the remaining three cups of half and half. Divide between ramekins, serving dishes, small glasses etc and refrigerate for a couple hours until set.
Once set, run a thin knife around the edge of the ramekin and invert onto a plate. Top with pistachios and grapefruit segments, serve immediately.