To anyone who knows me now, they might be shocked to learn that when I was a child, I didn’t really like desserts. My parents grew up in the post-war era and rationing was part of the way of life. Apart from being terribly thrifty (mum’s go-to dessert was a sheet of puff pastry smeared with jam, then baked), their tastes for food were typical British-Irish, that is to say – not very adventurous. We grew up in the country where there were two sorts of eating out: the pub and the Chinese restaurant (I now know that ‘chow mein’ is not really that authentic!).
Move on to when I went to university in Melbourne and I discovered the wonderful world of Australia’s multicultural cuisine. Turkish, Italian, Spanish, (real) Chinese, Vietnamese and anything and everything else.
One dessert I always avoided as a child was junket, I hated the slimy texture of it. So as a young adult I tended to avoid similar looking desserts, including crème brûlée and panna cottas. Now as a fully-fledged adult, I am making every effort to make amends for my dessert-free childhood and I just love panna cotta. It is so creamy and light and goes well with lots of different flavours. I like this recipe, as it uses tonka beans as flavour (of which I am a big fan!) and the baklava (crunch) and pomegranate (nom) brings a lovely Mediterranean dimension. Put it simply, this is a simply divine dessert!
Modified from a recipe in taste.com.au
Tonka bean panna cottas with pomegranate jelly and baklava pieces
You will need 6 small 175 ml (6 oz) moulds for this
Tonka bean panna cottas
- 250 ml cream (35% fat)
- 110 g caster sugar
- 1 tonka bean, finely grated
- 2 gelatine leaves
- 250 g Greek-style yoghurt
- Place cream, sugar and tonka bean in a saucepan on low heat. When the cream starts to simmer, remove from the heat and let it infuse for 30 minutes.
- Return saucepan to a low heat.
- Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes until soft. Squeeze to remove excess water and add to the tonka bean cream, stirring for a minute to dissolve.
- Strain through a sieve and fold through the yoghurt.
- Pour the panna cotta into the molds.
- Cover and refrigerate for 2 or more hours.
- 300 ml pomegranate juice
- 55 g caster sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick, roughly broken
- 2 gelatine leaves
- Place pomegranate juice, sugar and cinnamon stick in a pot on the stove top and heat on medium until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to infuse for 30 minutes.
- Return to pot on a low heat on the stove top.
- Soak gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes until soft. Squeeze out excess water and add to the juice, stirring to dissolve.
- Remove from heat, strain to remove the cinnamon and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Divide equally over the top of the chilled panna cottas.
- Cover with cling film and return to the refrigerator for at least two hours to set.
Note: do this in reverse (ie pour the panna cotta on top of the set pomegranate jelly) if you want to unmold the panna cottas before serving (though I find sometimes the jelly can separate from the panna cotta).
Alternatively, simply make the panna cottas, unmold and serve with a pomegranate reduction, made by boiling the pomegranate mixture (without gelatine) for about ten minutes to make a thick syrup.
- 1 vanilla bean
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 3 sheets filo pastry
- 55 g caster sugar
- 50 g walnuts, lightly toasted, then crushed
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Melt the butter and allow to cool a bit.
- Split the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the butter and mix.
- Combine the sugar and crushed walnuts in a small bowl.
- Brush one sheet of filo pastry with butter/vanilla, then sprinkle with ½ the sugar and walnuts. Layer another sheet of filo pastry on top and repeat with more butter/vanilla and the rest of the sugar and walnuts. Place the final layer of filo on top and lightly brush with butter/vanilla.
- Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes until it is nice and golden.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool and break up into shards to serve alongside the tonka bean and pomegranate panna cottas.