Panna Cotta with Berry Sauce

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A friend of mine made panna cotta with raspberry sauce and was very happy with them!  This is another recipe that requires no alterations to make gluten free.

Original recipe

 

Panna Cotta with Berry Sauce
From Natasha’s Kitchen

Yield: 6-8 servings

For panna cotta:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 packet (2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream

For berry sauce:

  • 2 cups berries, divided
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

 

Make panna cotta:

  1. Off the heat, place 1 cup milk in a medium saucepan and sprinkle the top with 1 packet gelatin. Let stand 3-5 minutes, or until gelatin is softened.
  2. Place pan over medium-low heat and stir until gelatin dissolves and mixture is steaming, about 4-5 minutes (do not boil).
  3. Add 2 cups heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
  4. Continue stirring about 5 minutes until sugar is fully dissolved and mixture is steaming (do not boil).
  5. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes.
  6. Place sour cream in a medium bowl with a pouring lip. Whisking constantly, gradually add warm cream.
  7. Once the mixture is completely smooth, divide it into 6 wine glasses or 8 ramekins. Refrigerate until fully set, 4-6 hours.

Make berry sauce:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup berries, 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons sugar.
  2. Bring to a low boil and cook 4-5 minutes or until syrupy.
  3. Stir in remaining 1 cup of fresh berries and remove from heat.
  4. When syrup is at room temperature or just barely warm, spoon it over the top of chilled panna cottas.
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Rasmalai (Sweetened Cheese Disks in Saffron Milk Syrup)

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A friend of mine had rasmalai or ras malai in a restaurant and enjoyed it so much that he wanted to try making it.  This is an Indian dessert consisting of soft cheese disks boiled in cardamom sugar syrup and served in thick saffron milk syrup, garnished with chopped pistachios.  Although the recipe looks complicated, it only took us a little over 2 hours and turned out to be very tasty.  If you have leftover milk syrup, you can even mix it with rum to make an eggnog-like drink!

Original recipe

 

Rasmalai (Sweetened Cheese Disks in Saffron Milk Syrup)
From HealthyIndianRecipes

Yield: 4 servings

For rabri (thickened milk):

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • Pinch of saffron (optional)

For chenna (cheese):

  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice OR vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  • 4 cups ice water OR ice cubes

For sugar syrup:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cardamom powder

For topping:

  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios OR sliced almonds (optional)

 

 

Make rabri (thickened milk syrup):

  1. Pour 3 cups milk into a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add saffron (if using) and sugar when the milk comes to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium.  Stir every 2 to 3 minutes to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom.
  4. When a layer of cream forms, just push it aside.
  5. Boil until the milk thickens and reduces by about half.  Set aside to cool.
  6. When the milk has cooled completely, chill it in the fridge.  (Alternatively, put in freezer to cool faster, but check frequently to make sure you don’t freeze it.)

Make chenna (cheese disks):

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, bring 5 cups milk to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together lemon juice OR vinegar and water.
  3. Add diluted lemon juice OR vinegar to the milk and stir until the milk curdles completely.  Pour in more lemon juice or vinegar if needed, but too much of it will make the chenna hard.  The leftover liquid (whey) will look greenish.
  4. Turn off heat, then add ice water or ice cubes to the pot and set aside for 2 minutes.  This will help keep the cheese soft.
  5. Line a colander with cheesecloth and drain curds and whey through cheesecloth.
  6. Squeeze out excess whey, gather together the edges of the cheesecloth, and tie a knot.
  7. Rinse under the faucet to remove the taste of lemon OR vinegar.  Squeeze out excess water.
  8. Hang it over a bowl for about 45 minutes to 1 hour for the excess whey to drain off.  The cheese will be just moist, with no dripping water.  It should not be sticky.
  9. Transfer the cheese to a plate. Knead well (squeeze with hands) for about 3-5 minutes until it is smooth and no longer crumbly.  Do not knead so long that the cheese begins to release grease or fats.
  10. Make 12 equal balls and flatten them to make disks. If the disks are slightly cracked on the sides, roll the sides gently. Cover and set aside.

Make sugar syrup:

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine 3 cups of water with 1 cup sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely.
  2. Bring to a boil, then add cardamom powder.
  3. Add the cheese disks to boiling syrup gently.
  4. Cook covered for 8 minutes on a medium-high heat.  The disks will double in size.

Assemble rasmalai:

  1. Remove the disks one by one and cool on a plate.
  2. Squeeze them gently between your palms to remove absorbed sugar syrup.
  3. Add these to the pot of chilled, thickened milk.  If desired, simmer for 1-2 minutes on low heat so cheese can absorb milk.  However, do not overcook or the disks will break up.
  4. Allow to rest for few hours if desired.
  5. Chill and garnish with chopped nuts (if desired) before serving.

Burmese-Inspired Chinese New Year Cake (Nian Gao)

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Recently I had a dessert called schweji at a Burmese restaurant.  This is a small cake made with cream of wheat or semolina flour that has raisins and a topping of poppy seeds.  Since today is Chinese New Year, I adapted a family nian gao recipe to make a gluten-free, schweji-inspired cake.

Baking note:

  • The schweji is coconut flavored, but the flavor of sticky rice is so strong that it will completely overwhelm coconut milk.  So you might as well use regular milk here.

 

Burmese-Inspired Chinese New Year Cake (Nian Gao)
Adapted from a family recipe

Yield: 9″x9″ cake

  • 1 lb sticky rice flour (I like to use a Thai brand, Erawan)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter (or margarine), softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup raisins
  • poppy seeds for topping

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9″x 9″ baking pan.
  2. Beat the butter until creamy, then beat in the other ingredients.  The batter will be runny, and it’s fine if there are little pieces of butter floating in it.
  3. Scatter raisins evenly across bottom of baking pan.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Sprinkle top with poppy seeds and bake for 50-60 min until the top is golden brown.  When done, the cake will be sort of jiggly and (what else?) sticky.