I have the good fortune of working with private parties in addition to my daily baking for the shop. Last fall, I worked on an Alice in Wonderland + garden tea party themed event and it was a blast! We made rabbit confit, orange marmalade scones, roasted tomato jam tartlets and so, so much more. One of the desserts I made were these little ladies- earl grey panna cotta served in a shortbread tart and garnished with sugared pansies. THEY KNOCKED IT OUTTA THE PARK.
Panna cotta is one of those go-to desserts that check off so many boxes. It's super simple to put together, it can be made relatively ahead of time, it can be made in a million different variations, it's creamy, dreamy, and delicious. There's a good reason why panna cotta and its plethora of iterations can be found on so many restaurant dessert menus.
If you'd like to try out a version like the one pictured above, give yourself a break and use a store-bought tart crust. If you're making it the day before, though, you'll want to protect your crust from becoming soggy. Just melt some candy wafers or white chocolate and brush onto the bottom and sides of your crusts. The chocolate will harden and voila, you have a moisture-proof barrier between your crispy crust and creamy custard. On the other hand, feel free to pour your panna cotta into little teacups or fancy-pants custard cups. Or, just use your cereal bowls- no judgment here.
I love using edible flowers. But, I totally understand that I have access to suppliers that most do not. Some high end grocery stores and specialty shops sell edible flowers if you are so inclined to venture down that road. But, trust me, there are endless options to garnishment that are readily available at your local Piggly Wiggly. This panna cotta was on our restaurant's dessert menu for sometime last year and I served it with a honey-dipped spoon. But, that's a whole other kit and caboodle. It would be lovely to serve with some honeycomb candy or even a nice whipped cream.
Note- because panna cotta is mostly comprised of cream, it can be steeped with so many different things! Take some liberty here and create unique and fun flavors!
Bowl #1- Medium Saucepan
4 cups heavy cream
100 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons earl grey tea leaves
Pinch of salt
4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
45 grams water
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the water and let sit.
In your saucepan, combine cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, and earl grey leaves. Place over medium-low heat and warm your mixture until it just barely simmers.
Pull your saucepan off the heat and let steep for 20 or 30 minutes.
Pour your cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. I like to take my spatula and press against the tea leaves to squeeze out as much flavor as I can.
Whisk your warm cream mixture into the bloomed gelatin. Whisk thoroughly! For perfect creaminess, you can pass this mixture through another fine-mesh sieve.
Portion your panna cotta mixture into whatever serving vessel you like; a glass, a bowl, pre-made tartlets, store-bought tart shells, you name it. Cover with plastic wrap, place in the fridge, and let set for at least four hours.