A: Hello, we’re A and B. Welcome to “Food Delight” with culinary tips to make your menu more interesting.
B: The Lunar New Year is right around the corner and a mountain of delicious food is waiting for me. I’m so looking forward to eating all of it.
A: Me, too. But after all the traditional dishes, I’m thinking of some light dessert. Because, you know, after a heavy meal, a light dessert would be great.
B: Yeah. Do you know panna cotta? I hear it’s one of the best desserts and not too difficult to make.
A: Ooh. I didn’t think of that. Yes, of course. Panna cotta would definitely be refreshing during a Tet holiday full of pork, chicken, and chung cakes.
|Mango Panna Cotta (Photo: Cookpad)|
B: There are several ways to make panna cotta, but probably vanilla panna cotta is the most popular. Today, we have Nico Ceccomoro, Chef and Manager of Cugini, an Italian restaurant at 67 To Ngoc Van street, Tay Ho district, Hanoi. He will tell us how to make a proper vanilla panna cotta. According to him, the most important thing is balancing the ingredients to make a perfect panna cotta.
"The gelatin is extremely important, but it needs to be balanced - never too much or too little. We’ll take cream, vanilla pod, the whole pod inside the cream. We add sugar and milk, and heat them up to 80-82 degrees Celsius," said Chef Nico.
B: An interesting tip when making panna cotta, according to Nico, is handling the gelatin.
"I suggest using gelatin sheets instead of powder, because it’s easier to control and the quality is better as well. After softening it up, you mix them with the mixture. Make sure the gelatin is mixed down correctly. Make sure there is not any gelatin that is not dissolved yet, or any piece of vanilla that is not enjoyable because it’s too big," Chef Nico explained.
|Sheet (leaf) gelatin (Photo: wikipedia)|
A: After completing the mixture, the next step is to cool down the mixture to allow it to harden and get into shape. Nico says this is an important step and the key to making a perfect panna cotta.
"After that, place the bowl with the panna cotta in ice water and keep mixing until it comes to room temperature. This requires a little bit of time and the mixture needs stirring constantly all the time, allowing the panna cotta to chill uniformly," said Chef Nico.
"If you put the mixture into the fridge right away, the vanilla pieces inside, if any, will be deposited and come down to the bottom of the glass. The only way to avoid that, is to chill it with ice and, as soon as you get to room temperature and you see the mixture is beginning to get thicker, before it starts to set, put it into the fridge for about 3 hours," he added.
B: Wow. I see. So now it’s ready to be served. I think there are many other ways to make panna cotta.
A: Exactly. I know there is panna cotta made with cinnamon, orange, and red wine, also. What can be added as a topping?
B: In my opinion, anything you like. Panna cotta is a soft, smooth custard. It will be wonderful if we add something to bite. I think Chef Nico shares that opinion.
"You can choose anything. The most popular is chocolate or strawberries. I like to put some nuts, to add crunchiness, because it’s a very smooth dessert. Hazelnuts go perfectly with chocolate sauce," said Chef Nico.
|Vanilla Panna Cotta (Photo: BBC)|