Vanilla pannacotta hearts, local strawberries presented four ways – fresh, jelly, coulis and crisps – whipped Locheilan cream, lemon shortbread.
This is a great recipe to make at home as you can prepare most of the elements prior to serving. The recipe is designed for two to share with some leftovers to enjoy the next day.
75g caster sugar
2 gelatine leaves
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean
Add the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar to a small pot; whisk lightly before bringing to the boil. Turn off heat.
Place the gelatine leaves in cold water until they soften (maybe 1 minute), squeeze excess water before adding into the cream/milk mix. Stir gently to melt the gelatine.
Strain the mix through a fine chinois (fancy word for a fine seive) into a bowl. Place this bowl over ice water until the mix is cool and thick but not set. Poor into a small container around 15cm x 5cm or into any container as long as the panncotta is around 1.5cm thick.
If you don't have ice (which I don't usually have either) use any kind of ice blocks you may have in the freezer – I have blue ones – and put them in the sink with some cold water. Be careful not to fill the sink too much or the water may end up in your bowl.
Place the pannacotta in the fridge until needed. It can be made up to three days in advance; just ensure it is covered as it will absorb any strong smells.
Why cool it over ice you ask? This way the vanilla beans will evenly dispurse through your pannacotta rather than falling to the bottom and it also prevents a thick skin forming whilst setting in the fridge. It's also a great way for it to set quickly if you don't have much time.
1 punnet fresh strawberries – keep 3 strawberries aside for plating
For the crisps: slice 2 strawberries very finely and place in a dehydrator or 100 degree oven until dry. They may still seem soft but they will crisp up once they cool down. If it's a super humid day, keep them in the freezer.
For the coulis and jelly: puree the remaining strawberries (remove the green bits first) with icing sugar to taste. Depending on the sweetness of the strawberries, I tend to add to taste rather than a set amount. The smaller the strawberry, the less sugar is usually needed.
Once a smooth puree, strain through your chinois and measure out 100ml of puree. Soften 1 gelatine leaf in cold water and heat 30ml of the puree in the microwave. Add the softened gelatine to the hot puree and ensure it's well mixed before adding to the remaining 70ml of cold puree. Place this into a 10cm round container or similar size so that the puree is around 1cm in thickness. Place in the fridge to cool and set. Can be made up to a week in advance.
Tip: if you heat up all of the puree to dissolve the gelatine, you will find the beautiful red colour will change to a not as nice colour due to the heat. By only heating a small amount, the red will remain.
Whipped Locheilan Cream
Local folklaw tells us that the quickest way of whipping by hand is using a glass bowl! Try it for yourself; it's true!
100ml Locheilan cream
50ml icing sugar
In a glass bowl, using a whisk and some muscles, whisk until soft to firm peaks form. Transfer into a container with lid until plating. This is best done just before serving.
It is difficult to make this recipe for the quantity required so you will have some shortbread leftover for the following day. Not a bad problem to have really!
125g butter, softened
40g caster sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 tablespoon water
150g plain flour
40g fine semolina
Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees.
Beat butter, sugar and zest in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
Sift the flour and fold in with the water, trying not to over mix.
Spread onto a small tray lined with greaseproof paper until approx 1 1/2cm thick and place in freezer for 15 minutes.
Remove from freezer and carefully turn out onto a chopping board. Using a heart shape cutter, cut shortbread carefully and lay hearts onto a tray to bake.
Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until a light golden brown.
Top tip: Don't go outside to water your garden whilst the biscuits are in the oven. Chances are your kids won't tell you the timer has gone off and your shortbread with over bake!
Cut the pannacotta and strawberry jelly into heart shapes and place around your serving plate.
Arrange the shortbread, coulis and cream.
Place the crisps on the cream so they sit up.
Cut the strawberries into quarters and arrange.
Finish with rose petals and lemon balm or mint.
Serve and enjoy with your loved one!