Yoghurt panna cotta

Yoghurt panna cotta with strawberriesLast summer, I made Ottolenghi’s Set yoghurt pudding with poached peaches, a luxurious combination of creamy little puddings and peaches decadently flavoured with Arak (or Pernod in my case), from his book Jerusalem, written with Sami Tamimi. When I was looking for something to go with the last of some baked rhubarb to serve to a friend for supper after choir, I thought that the set yoghurt pudding – essentially panna cotta made with Greek yoghurt – would be more interesting than just serving the rhubarb with Greek yoghurt.

The rhubarb had been baked with soft brown sugar and a little chopped stem ginger (at 200ºC, in a dish covered with foil, about 25 mins – though you have to watch it as it seems to go from hard to puree in minutes). It would have been even nicer had I squeezed an orange over it, but I didn’t have one to hand when I was cooking.

This is a particularly useful recipe because you can scale it up or down easily, and making it in individual portions means that you can easily keep any extras. I made 3 so that I had one to look forward to the next night to eat with some early British strawberries.

Ingredients for each portion are:

1 leaf gelatine
50ml double cream
50ml milk (whole is specified, but I used semi-skimmed)
1 tbsp caster sugar (rather less than the original recipe)
50ml Greek yoghurt
vanilla and/or orange flavouring (see below)

You will need little moulds or ramekins or sturdy glasses that hold 150ml each. I have a set of 6 little metal pudding dishes, which are perfect for this, and easy to unmould.

Soak the gelatine in cold water for a few minutes. Meanwhile, heat the cream and milk (I think you could substitute the whole lot with single cream if that is what you had to hand) with the sugar and flavourings. For 3 puddings I used a piece of vanilla retrieved from the sugar jar, with the seeds scraped out into the cream. Ottolenghi adds the grated zest of ½ an orange for 4 portions as well, while Claudia Roden’s classic Panna Cotta recipe uses vanilla essence (8 drops for 300 ml cream). I wonder if rosewater might be nice, too if you were serving it with, say, raspberries. Bring to a simmer and immediately take off the heat. Remove the vanilla pod if you have used one.

Put the greek yoghurt into a bowl and whisk while you pour in the hot milk mixture. Squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves and stir them into the mixture until they have dissolved, which should only take a minute or so.

Yoghurt panna cotta in mouldI rinsed the moulds quickly under the cold tap, in the belief that it makes them easier to unmould, just as I film the pan with water when I am heating milk for my coffee to make the pan easier to wash – but it may be the sort of habit that my father regards as unscientific nonsense passed down from mother to daughter. Divide the mixture between the moulds or glasses. Put in the fridge for at least five hours to set, covering with cling film if you are keeping them for longer than this.

If you have used glasses (which I did the second time I made this) they would be pretty served in the glass with the fruit on top. Smitten Kitchen has a recipe for Yoghurt panna cotta topped with honey and walnuts where she serves it like this (as well as in a single large unmoulded pudding, which looks a bit tricky to me). I unmoulded my panna cottas by dipping each mould in a small pan of hot water, slipping a knife round the edge and then inverting onto the dessert plate with a sharp intake of breath. Serve with fresh, baked or poached fruit.

 

 

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