Saturday, November 30, 2013

Coconut Infused Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Frosted Blueberries and Toasted Coconut

I hope everyone that celebrated Thanksgiving this year had a good one. I am so proud of myself for not overcooking this year. I bought a little 10 pound turkey and made just three sides not counting the cranberry sauce and rolls. Besides the soup carcass and a couple slices of crème caramel, we are done with the leftovers.

Since our refrigerator isn't packed full of the remnants of our turkey dinner (i.e. nothing falls out when you open the door), I kind of felt inspired to do one more recipe for the Highbush Blueberry Council using their little blue dynamos while I still had the chance, and since I've had a craving for panna cotta, the timing is perfect.

There isn't a dessert that I love much more than panna cotta.  This eggless custard is thickened with gelatin and even though it is made with heavy cream is anything but. My coconut infused version has subtle coconut and vanilla flavors and just the right amount of sugar to perfectly compliment the sweetness of the frosted blueberries and toasted coconut on top.

This recipe really is something special if you are serving it for guests, but easy enough you can make it and keep it in the fridge as a weeknight treat for your family. You're going to love it. I promise.

Coconut Infused Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta With Frosted Blueberries and Toasted Coconut

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup whole milk, slightly warm
1 - 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pasteurized dried egg whites
1 tablespoon water
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/3 cup super fine sugar

Place 1 cup of coconut and heavy cream and vanilla bean in a medium size sauce pan over medium heat. Slice vanilla bean down the middle and scrap seeds out with the edge of a knife. Add the pod and seeds to the cream; stir. 

Bring cream mixture to a low simmer and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 15 minutes or until just warm to the touch.

Sprinkle the gelatin powder over the top of the warm whole milk. Set aside for 5 minutes to soften.

Strain coconut and cream. Push coconut against the side of a strainer with the back of a spoon to extract any cream from the coconut.  Return the cream back to the saucepan over medium heat and bring back up to a simmer.

Add the warm whole milk/gelatin mixture to the simmering cream, stirring until all the gelatin has completely dissolved.

Pour the mixture into 6 containers that are approximately 4 ounces each.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.

About an hour before serving, place the egg white powder and water in a small bowl and whisk until it is completely incorporated. You may also use a fresh egg white for this step if the pasteurized powder is not available.

Pour over the frozen blueberries and very gently toss to coat.

Place blueberries in a shallow bowl and place in the freezer for at least one hour. Just before serving, remove blueberries from the freezer. Pour the superfine sugar onto a small plate and roll berries around in it to coat.

Place the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut in a small frying pan that has been preheated over medium high heat.  Stirring frequently, toast the coconut to a golden brown.  Transfer toasted coconut to a small bowl or plate; set aside until ready to use.

Panna cotta is ready to serve when it is firmly set and chilled through. Finish by topping with equal amounts of toasted coconut and frosted blueberries shortly before serving.

Serves 6 

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