The first time I made Panna Cotta was almost 8 years ago when I was staying in China. The 2 little girls of our Mexican business partner was in Singapore for a short holiday and during one of our trips to Holland Village, we had tasted a Pandan Panna Cotta at fine food store, Bunalun. It was so delicious, the girls absolutely loved it. It was then, that I started to experiment on my own to come up with a Pandan Coconut flavoured Panna Cotta that had become a 'star' treat among my friends. Come to think of it, I have never made a plain or traditional Panna Cotta, ever... possibly because I am not really a big dairy fan.Panna Cotta, literally means 'cooked cream' in Italian where it originated, requires a generous portion of cream and milk to be cooked and set with gelatine.
I have not made this dessert for quite a while now and am suddenly reminded of it after I attended the Fabulous Fruit Desserts baking class yesterday at Shermay's Cooking School. The very talented Joycelyn Shu was conducting the demo class and for those who are interested, you can find her beautiful creations at her fabulous blog Kuidaore - hers was the first food blog I got to know about 3 years back and possibly the only food blog I visited for a couple of years before I started doing my own last year. I loved going to Joycelyn's blog for her prose, she writes so well, it is pure literature. Her photos and creations are even more amazing. However, she does not blog as often now, she almost only posts nowadays to give a peek at what she would be doing for classes - but the photos are still as stunning as ever.
During yesterday's class, one of the featured recipe was a Orange & Honey Panna Cotta. A recipe that is zested with orange and sweetened with honey, she had deliberately designed it set to the softest pudding. As a result of which, this is the most creamy Panna Cotta I have ever tasted. Inspired by the texture, I immediately wanted to apply it to my Pandan Coconut Panna Cotta. I took to sweeten the dessert with a very mild honey (clover) instead of sugar and replacing part of the cream and milk with coconut cream. I had wanted to add a dash of chic-ness to it by accompanying it with something refreshing to cut through/balance the heaviness of the cream. I thought of making a Lemon Grass Syrup but felt too lazy to go through all the works. In the end I topped it with some fresh coconut juice and young coconut meat. Not the most chic approach, I must say, because the watery topping, I feel makes the whole presentation look rather sloppy. A more syrupy consistency would probably work better.
One more tip to share - I always serve my Panna Cotta in small shot glasses. The rich, creamy dessert will have you swooning at the first 2 mouthfuls but I, for one, will never be able to work through a bigger serving. You would want to have your guest enjoy the dessert till the last mouthful and leave them longing for more. When things are left unfinished, the drab sets in....