Strawberry rhubarb panna cotta
Rhubarb and strawberries
Strawberries and rhubarb for dessert are the harbingers of spring. This recipe is a variation on Mario Batali's strawberry, balsamic and pepper panna cotta. For more information on rhubarb and strawberries, how to prepare them, their health benefits and nutritional value, see my rhubarb and strawberry posts.
Panna cotta is one of my favorite desserts. It is incredibly versatile, can be prepared in a few minutes, is made in advance so it has time to chill, and on top of it all is gluten-free. Panna cotta means cooked cream in Italian, and is the perfect canvas for whatever fruit flavors you love.
I use demerara sugar, a large-crystal natural sugar to make the strawberry and rhubarb topping. Demerara sugar is made by evaporating cane sugar resulting in the large crunchy crystals. Demerara sugar has a caramel-like flavor, but does not have the added molasses that brown sugar has. Demerara sugar is great in coffee or tea, mojitos, and sprinkled on the top of baked goods. In a pinch, you can substitute regular sugar.
To make the lemon zest I use a fine microplane. I find adding a bit of fresh lemon or other citrus zest to custards, panna cotta, salad dressings, jams, marinades and sauces adds great flavor.
While panna cotta is quick to make, it does need at least 3 hours in the fridge to set. I like to make it a day in advance for entertaining so I have one less thing to think about.
More panna cotta recipes
- Lemon on lemon panna cotta
- Mario Batali's strawberry panna cotta
- Painkiller panna cotta
- Bananas Foster panna cotta
- 4 T water
- 1 T unflavored gelatin
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 4 c whipping cream
- 2½ cups Greek yogurt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 pound rhubarb, sliced in ½" pieces
- ½ cup demerara sugar, plus more for garnish
- ¼ cup water
- 3 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered plus 10 for garnish
- Zest from one lemon
- 2 T fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup of chopped mint
- Put water in a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin. Set aside for 15 minutes until softened.
- In a large bowl, whisk 2 cups whipping cream and yogurt together. Set aside.
- Over medium heat, put remaining cream and 1 cup sugar in a small sauce pan. Split vanilla bean and scrape out seeds with a spoon. Add the seeds and the bean to the pan. Stir until sugar is dissolved and cream begins to simmer. Remove from heat and remove vanilla bean.
- Add the gelatin to the hot cream pan mixture and stir to dissolve the gelatin into the cream. Add hot cream and gelatin mixture to bowl of cream and yogurt, and stir to combine. Divide mixture into individual serving cups, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
- In a separate pan, put the rhubarb, water and demerara sugar, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Add the strawberries, lemon zest and lemon juice and simmer another 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust lemon juice and sugar if necessary. Remove from heat and transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate.
- Once the panna cotta has set you can add the topping to the panna cotta containers. At this point you can serve immediately or return to the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. Just before serving, garnish each cup with a sprinkle of chopped mint and a fresh strawberry. If you like a little bit of crunch, you can also sprinkle with a bit of demerara sugar.