This panna cotta is based on a recipe from Vini, Berta’s sister restaurant. There they serve it with a coffee caramel and dark roasted almonds and I think it may be one of the most perfect desserts, creamy, light and delicate with a touch of bitterness and crunch. This version aims to explore the honey element found in the recipe and pair it with some fresh summer fruit. Find a type of honey that tickles your fancy – Italian chestnut honey is strong and very aromatic or use some nice local Australian variety.
For the panna cotta
- 200 ml pouring cream
- 120 g honey
- 2 bay leaves, slightly crushed
- 1 vanilla pod, cut in half and scraped
- 1 tsp river salt
- 1 ½ sheets titanium gelatin
- 400 g fresh ricotta
- 140 ml milk
- 2 ripe nectarines cut into wedges
- 100 g whole almonds, roasted and roughly chopped
- a little extra honey for drizzling
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time overnight
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, honey, bay, vanilla and salt. Place on a medium heat and bring it to the boil. Once it’s come up, remove from the heat and seat aside for at least half an hour or so to allow the flavours time to infuse.
Once you’re ready, come back to your kitchen, place your gelatin sheets in some cold water to soften and place your cream mix back on the heat to come to the boil again. When these things have both happened, squeeze out excess water from gelatin sheets and whisk them into the cream mix.
In a largish bowl, combine the milk and ricotta and use either a bar mix or a whisk to combine. You want a nice smooth mixture. Pour in your cream mix and whisk to combine.
Now, all you need to do is strain your liquid panna cotta into a tray about 15 cm x 30 cm. Allow it to cool completely before covering with glad wrap and letting it set overnight in your fridge.
To serve, place a few wedges of nectarines on each serving plate, spoon large spoonful’s of the panna cotta over the top, scatter your almonds and drizzle with a little extra honey.
• In desperate times, the panna cotta can be made first thing in the morning and it should be set ready for dessert after dinner. But that’s only for those who like living life on the edge. Don't worry if this is not a smooth panna cotta. The fresh ricotta has lumps; it adds texture and character to the dish!
Photographs by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd. Tea towels from Bonnie and Neil.