Birthdays are joyous occasions, and with so many Sisters in the Convent, there are bound to be several birthday celebrations each month. This is especially true with what we refer to as “big birthdays”, birthdays that mark a new decade in the life of a sister. Over the weekend, we celebrated the 70th birthday of one of our sisters with a beautiful dinner for all. The meal ended with one of our most favorite desserts: Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta. While not a traditional birthday cake, this was no less festive as it also featured a delicious mango puree.
Dense, creamy and with minimal ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen, this is a great way to mark special occasions this summer. Served chilled with fresh berries, this may well become a favorite with you and your guests!
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Mango Puree
- Place the cream in a saucepan and scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a knife, adding the seeds to the cream.
- Add the sugar and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
- In a separate bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and let stand until the gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the gelatin mixture into the cream and vanilla bean mixture and stir until dissolved.
- Add the yogurt and stir to thoroughly incorporate.
- Pour evenly into six to eight ramekin and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for 6 hours or overnight for the panna cotta to set.
- As this is chilling, prepare the mango puree by combining the fruit, sugar, lemon juice and salt in a blender or food processor. Chill in a bowl until panna cotta is ready to serve.
Note: There are several ways to serve this dessert. As shown, we chose to chill the panna cotta at an angle and serve in a clear water goblet for a pleasing visual effect. For the more ambitious, panna cotta can be served inverted on a plate, similar to flan. Below are two methods of serving this dessert--both are equally impressive!
- Once the panna cotta has set, place each ramekin in warm water--the water should be halfway up the sides of the ramekin.
- Once this has been in the water bath 1-2 minutes, put your serving plate on top of the ramekin and invert the panna cotta onto the plate.
- Spoon the puree over the top and garnish with fruit and fresh mint as desired.
- Before making the panna cotta, prepare the glasses you will be serving in, tilting them securely at an angle on a tray. An egg carton works well for this.
- When pouring panna cotta mixture, use a funnel and gently fill the tilted glasses to the desired height.
- Carefully transfer the tray into the refrigerator, taking care not to bump or jostle the tray, as this will leave a milky residue on the side of the glass.
- When fully set (6 hours or overnight) stand the glasses upright and pipe in the mango puree. Piping helps control the puree and keep it from smearing on the glass.
- Garnish with fruit or mint and serve.
Spring is here and we welcome it with open arms! I happened upon these whimsical, delightful pastel meringues. Immediately, Mother’s Day sprang to mind – little kisses with chewy centers and soft colors.. the perfect gift to show your mom how much you love and appreciate her.
- Preheat oven to 215 degrees F.
- Line baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
- Place egg whites, sugar and vanilla bean seeds in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk to combine.
- Add a couple of inches of water to a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Then place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler.
- Heat for about 3-5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch.
- Return mixing bowl back to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until glossy stiff peaks form (about 5-7 minutes or until the bowl of the mixer is cool to the touch).
- Halfway through mixing, add in the cream of tartar and salt.
- With about 1 minute left, add in gel food coloring.
- Stop mixer and removed bowl from stand. Add in whichever “extra” ingredient you would like: dried raspberries or cranberries, pistachios, chocolate shavings and orange zest, coconut or almonds, and gently fold with a rubber spatula to combine.
- Using a small ice cream scoop, or teaspoon, place dollops of meringue on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Then sprinkle with your toppings used in the meringue: pistachios, raspberries, craisins, chocolate shavings and orange zest, almonds, or coconut.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 1- 1 1/2 hours, or until the outsides are crisp and dry and the insides are chewy.
- Serve immediately after cooling or store in an air-tight container away from any humidity.