The Novice Cook: White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Raspberry Sauce and Homemade Shortbread Biscuits

by thomandaimee

Sometimes images of half-eaten food convey a stronger story than the clean unsullied ones. I particularly love how it can capture a sense of pleasure and a little lust as though the photographer couldn’t wait to eat it before shooting. Or maybe that’s just me.

The last dessert I made was a fairly successful one despite attempting it without any aid. This time, I’m not even sure if I could categorise this under The Novice Cook because I had so much assistance from Ned. The words I utter in the kitchen will stay secret as they are too embarrassing to be known to the world. Just picture this: flying batter, stubborn puddings, missing ramekins, gelatin leave uncertainty and plenty of exasperation. I’m glad to say I survived and that I even managed to get a compliment from my little sister Ned: “I’m so proud of you, Jie, you made shortbread.” Yes, for a girl who still doesn’t know how to cook rice, that’s grand.

The original recipe from Hugh did not have raspberry sauce but I thought it would make a lovely addition to the dish. And that worked very well indeed, especially against the crunchiness of the shortbread and creaminess of the panna cotta. I must stress that good quality white chocolate is highly essential to this dish or the pudding will be a let down. Also, Hugh did not specify the amount of gelatin leaves needed as different brands offer different leaf sizes. So keep the packaging so that you’d have the information readily.

For the shortbread, instead of crumbling them into little pieces, they were cut into smooth circles for very superficial reasons. The thing about recipe books is that they don’t make it dummy-proof for noobs like me. Instead of whisking the butter before adding the sugar, I mixed everything in together and started the electric whisker. Now, that explains the the story of the flying batter. Well, and that I had simply no common sense that a bigger bowl was more suitable for the job.

After the numerous casualties, the panna cotta turned out fine after some prodding. The smell of freshly baked shortbread was intoxicating. I enjoyed dipping the leftover biscuits into the bright red sauce for a light snack. Raspberry, creamy white chocolate and buttery shortbread biscuits – this is like the holy trinity of desserts.

This is my little tribute to our upcoming trip to the UK with the reds, whites and blues of the Union Jack. I have about eight hours and then the plane takes off to the city of fandom. We are huge Doctor Who fans, if you haven’t noticed already. Till then…

The recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things.

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