Friday, May 7, 2010

Panna Cotta with Red Wine Granita

I love the interesting combination of panna cotta and granita. The texture of panna cotta is creamy, the flavor is beautifully basic and spare. The granita is icy and the flavor is usually quite concentrated. As one begins to melt into the other, you wind up with a playful exchange of both.

Panna cotta has all the virtues of an eggless custard, which can be put together in a matter of just a few minutes. Granita also has the advantage of quick preparation without the need for any extra machinery. So there's really nothing to prevent you from having a little bit of Italy on your table if you're feeling up for the journey.

This dessert matches a simple vanilla panna cotta with a spiced red wine granita. Each component is delicious on its own, but together they make for an unusual and enjoyable treat, perfect for the coming warm weather where there will be lots of occasions to share delicious meals with friends and family.

Bench notes:

- I use a minimum amount of gelatin to make the panna cotta because I don’t unmold it and I like the silkier texture for this dessert.
- Sprinkle the gelatin into the cold water rather than the other way around to keep lumps from forming.
- This granita is based on a pear poaching liquid from Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells
- Use your favorite red wine. I chose a Tempranillo wine this time around and it was great, but any fruity Zinfandel, Cabernet, Syrah, Pinot or Merlot will work.
- You might also enjoy Panna Cotta with Fig Compote and Orange Granite

Panna Cotta with Red Wine Granita
Serves 6

Red Wine Granita

1 1/2 C fruity red wine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 C water
2 T crème de cassis liqueur
1 T lemon juice
1/2 sprig rosemary
2 cloves
4 black peppercorns

Panna Cotta

1 1/2 C heavy cream
1 1/2 C half and half
1/3 C sugar
1 t vanilla
1 t fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
1 1/2 t unflavored gelatin
2 T water

For the granita, combine all ingredients into a saucepan and simmer on low for about 10 - 15 minutes to concentrate the flavors. Cool completely. Strain into a shallow airtight container, cover and place in your freezer. After about 2 hours, take a fork and scrape the surface of the granita to form icy crystals. Place back in the freezer and repeat again in an hour or so.

For the panna cotta, place 2 tablespoons of water in a small dish. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let sit for a few minutes to bloom.

Bring the heavy cream, half and half and sugar to a slow simmer over moderately low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and whisk thoroughly.

Set the bottom of the dish of bloomed gelatin in a pan of simmering water to melt, then whisk into cream mixture. Pour the panna cotta into parfait glasses or dessert dishes and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight until firm.

To serve, garnish the panna cotta with a couple of tablespoons of the granita and enjoy immediately.


Aneta said...


I just came across your blog, and WOW! I love that your writing is precise and descriptive, almost poetical. Also that you explain why the flavours and textures work, and how to serve the desert. The photos are beautiful. Great work.

Would like to make this panna cotta, but have a few questions. 1) what is half and half? is it a half cream half milk mixture? 2) if I wanted to unmould the panna cotta, how much more gelatin would I have to add? and 3)I don't cook with alcohol, so could I use raspberries and make it according to your orange granite recipe from your linked post for panna cotta with fig compote?

I know, it is changing the recipe around quite a bit, but you have inspired me to make panna cotta and granita where others have failed, so it's with respect that I ask for your assistance.


pastry studio said...

Thank you so much and welcome, Aneta! Please always feel free to ask questions.

Yes, half-and-half is half cream and half milk. Panna cotta is very versatile, so you can use different ratios of cream, milk, creme fraiche or buttermilk, depending on your taste. I think if you add just another 1/4 teaspoon of gelatin to the panna cotta you'll be able to unmold it. To serve, just run a very thin sharp knife or small metal spatula along the edge of the ramekins. Then one at a time, dip the bottom of the ramekin in a small bowl of very hot water for 6 – 10 seconds, or long enough to feel some warmth on the bottom of the ramekin. It should come out easily.

Raspberry granita is delicious, so yes give that a try. Here's a recipe:

3/4 C water
3 T sugar
3 C raspberries

Boil the water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Cool. Puree the raspberries in a food processor and push through a sieve to remove the seeds. Whisk in the sugar syrup and taste for sweetness. Add more sugar if you want it sweeter. I always like to add lemon juice to brighten the flavor, so add about a teaspoon at a time until it tastes right for you. Then pour into a container and place in the freezer. Scrape according to the directions.

I hope you enjoy it!

Aneta said...

Great! I will make the panna cotta with cream and milk this first time, but its good to know that there are options. Thanks so much for your detailed directions on the unmolding too.

I'll be using frozen rasberries, as its late autumn here in Melbourne, and I love the addition of the lemon juice to the granita, so will do as suggested.

I am thrilled that I came across your blog, and love that you are so generous with your assistance, thank you.

I will let you know how it all went after I made it. Thanks again.

Aneta said...

I made the panna cotta and raspberry granita yesterday and both were very delicious and very easy to make.

I decided last minute not to use the extra gelatin and unmold the panna cotta, and I am glad I didnt, because upon eating it I see much wisdom in your recipe, producing a softly set, silky panna cotta in contrast to the icy granita. The panna cotta was also perfectly sweetened and flavoured. It did, however, leave a slight fatty coating on the roof of my mouth as I ate it, so next time, I am going to make it using less cream and more milk, or maybe buttermilk instead of the milk, as I might enjoy the slight tang.

The flavour of the granita was very concentrated (I added 2T lemon juice) and the colour a most beautiful red. Refreshing and delicious to eat.

Overall a delighful success, and am looking forward to making and eating it again in summer. Thank you.

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Jessica said...

The recipe looks so delicious! I also love your photography...simple, yet elegant...all the way!

Azra said...

Your recipe post is actually very lyrical and nice to read. Granita sounds great with Panna cotta. But won't the strong sweet icy flavor of the granita kill the taste of Panna cotta?
Nevertheless, I would definitely love to try making this!

Thank you.

pastry studio said...

Hi Azra. Thank you for stopping by and for your generous compliment! Although it may seem like an odd pairing, panna cotta and granita really make an interesting dessert. There's something about the clash of textures and the counterpoint of flavors that really works. I hope you have a chance to try it!