Vanilla panna cotta with cranberry jelly and summer berries

This is a great summer dessert that is easy to prepare and can be made ahead of time, making it a perfect choice for your Christmas celebrations. Serves 8

Panna cotta
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthways, seeds scraped OR use 1 tsp vanilla paste
300ml cream (for dairy-free use coconut cream or lactose free cream)
300ml milk (for dairy-free use coconut milk or lactose free milk)
75g sugar
2 sheets titanium strength gelatine (available at Kitchen to Table)
200g plain yoghurt (for dairy free use coconut yoghurt or lactose free yoghurt)

Cranberry Jelly
330ml cranberry juice
2 sheets titanium strength gelatine

To serve
1 punnet strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 punnet blueberries
1 punnet raspberries
1 tbsp sugar
1 handful basil leaves
1 small handful mint leaves
1 tbsp sugar, extra
1 tbsp lemon juice

1 packet chocolate wafer rolls, to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. For panna cotta: you will need 8 individual glasses for this recipe. Place the glasses on a tray to make moving them from the bench to the fridge easier.
  2. Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for a few minutes to soften, then remove from the water and squeeze to remove excess water.
  3. Place the cream, milk, vanilla bean & seeds, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Warm gently and bring just up to boiling point, then immediately remove from the heat. Add the softened gelatine and stir to dissolve in the warm cream mixture. Set aside on the bench and cover loosely with a clean tea towel. Allow to cool to room temperature, then remove the vanilla pod. Note: the cream mixture must be cool (under 25 degrees celcius) before adding the yoghurt, otherwise the mixture will curdle.
  4. Add the yoghurt and whisk through to combine. Strain through a fine sieve into a jug with a pouring spout. Divide the mixture between the glasses, approximately 100ml per glass, cover and place in the fridge to set for about 3 hours. Check at this point to see it is set enough to support the jelly layer. If so prepare the jelly.
  5. To prepare the jelly, soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for a few minutes to soften, then remove from the water and squeeze to remove excess water. Heat the cranberry juice in a small saucepan until just below boiling, remove from heat and stir in the softened gelatine. Allow to cool to room temperature. When cool slowly pour the jelly liquid over the back of a spoon onto the panna cotta to create a 1/2 cm layer of jelly. Chill for another 2 hours or until set.
  6. For the berries: combine the basil, mint and the extra tablespoon of sugar in a mortar and pestle and pound to a paste. Add the lemon juice to make a smooth moist mixture. Allow to sit until the sugar dissolves.
  7. About 2 hours before serving place the strawberries and blueberries in a bowl and sprinkle with the 1 tablespoon of sugar. Cover and allow to marinate.
    When ready to serve add the herb mixture to the strawberries and stir to coat, then add the raspberries and stir gently and briefly to avoid damaging the raspberries. Spoon the berry mixture over each panna cotta and finish with a chocolate wafer roll for a festive touch.

Notes: this recipe can be made dairy-free by substituting cows milk and cream for coconut milk and cream, and using a coconut yoghurt in place of the cows milk yoghurt.

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