White Chocolate and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Basil-Pomegranate Gelée
Makes 8 – 10 individual-sized 3-ounce servings
2¼ cups heavy cream
¾ cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean
6 ounces good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp cold water
1 packet unflavored gelatin
1 tbsp water
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice (fresh or store-bought)
2 fresh basil leaves, torn
2 – 4 tsp sugar, or to taste
½ cup fresh pomegranate avrils (seeds)
1 tsp orange blossom extract (optional)
Baby pomegranate leaves for garnish (optional)
For the Panna Cotta Base
Place the cream and milk in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape the seeds from each half and place in the saucepan, along with the vanilla bean halves. Heat over medium-high heat until very hot but not boiling (you should see small bubbles along the rim of the saucepan). Whisk and set aside for 30 minutes to let the vanilla flavour infuse, then strain.
Meanwhile, pour 3 tbsp cold water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the packet of gelatin on top and let it sit 5 to 10 minutes until fully bloomed – it will look like a thick gel. Tip: don’t worry if there seems to be a lot of gelatin. Just sprinkle evenly and let it sit undisturbed without stirring.
Melt the white chocolate over a double-broiler or using a microwave on 50% power. Pour some milk over the chocolate, whisking gently to dissolve. Pour the dissolved chocolate into the rest of the milk. Whisk in the sugar.
Place the bowl of gelatin into a larger bowl filled 1-inch with hot water. Once the gelatin melts whisk it into the rest of the ingredients.
Fill clean serving glasses with about 3-ounces of mixture. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before pouring the gelée on top.
For the Pomegranate-Basil Gelée & Garnish
Pour 1 tbsp cold water into a small bowl. Sprinkle 1 tsp gelatin on top and let it sit 5 – 10 minutes until fully bloomed
Bring the pomegranate juice to a gentle boil, then remove from the heat. Add the torn basil leaves and leave to infuse 10 minutes. Remove the basil leaves then sweeten to taste with sugar and cool completely.
Place the bowl of gelatin into a larger bowl that is filled 1-inch with hot water. When melted, whisk the gelatin into the cooled pomegranate juice.
Pour about 2 tbsp mixture over the pre-set panna cotta base. Refrigerate at least 2 hours until gelée is firm.
Before serving, mix the pomegranate seeds with the orange blossom extract. Top each serving glass with a few avrils and baby basil leaves. Serve chilled.
The panna cotta-gelée dessert can be made a day or 2 in advance. It will have varying degrees of firmness – from a soft pudding to a firm custard – until 12 hours of being in the fridge, after which it will not set any more. Preparing 1 day before serving gives the best taste but you can do 2 days if you need to.