Panna cotta, an Italian set cream dessert that is irresistibility delicious, silky and smooth. It certainly is one of our family favorites and most likely, one of yours too. And like all classic desserts, variations exist, like this elderflower panna cotta with strawberries and crumble topping. If you live in an area where fresh elderflowers grow then lucky you. I resorted to using a bottle of elderflower cordial, fresh elderflowers do not grow in this part of the world. On recent travels managed to buy a packet of dried elderflowers but to be honest, found them flavorless and wouldn’t bother with them again.
This panna cotta is from the BBC Good Food 2019 calendar and was the seasonal recipe for the month of June. The crumble was a lovely addition but if I were making this dessert again, I would try the oat crumble from this lemon and thyme posset. Or you could try another flavor variation, panna cotta with orange, amaretto and blueberry compote.
When making the panna cotta (without fresh flowers), reduce the milk by about 75ml and replaced with elderflower cordial. Also, you need to reduce the sugar by about half otherwise the panna cotta will be overtly sweet. When slicing the strawberries, mixed them with a tablespoon of elderflower cordial instead of the caster sugar. Just so you know, elderflowers are in season from June to July and as we are in the month August, you will need to use elderflower cordial.
Elderflower Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Crumble Topping
Recipe adapted from the BBC Good Food Calendar 2019.
500ml double or whipping cream
450ml full-fat milk, (reduce milk by 75ml if using elderflower cordial)
10 large elderflower heads, flowers picked, (or use elderflower cordial, see note above)
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
5 gelatine leaves
85g caster sugar, (reduce sugar by half if using elderflower cordial)
For the crumble:
75b unsalted butter
75g all purpose flour
50g caster sugar
25g ground almonds
250g strawberries, tops trimmed, then sliced
1 tablespoon of caster sugar or, use 1 tablespoon of elderflower cordial
elderflowers to decorate, optional
You will need: Six 150ml dariole moulds, lightly greased. Also, a small baking tray lined with baking parchment.
How to make:
If using the flowers; Put the cream, milk, flowers, vanilla seeds and pod in a pan set over gentle heat. As soon as the cream mixture starts to simmer, remove from heat and leave to cool completely.
If using the elderflower cordial: Put the cream, milk, vanilla seeds and pod in a pan set over gentle heat, as soon as the mixture starts to simmer, remove from heat. While the cream is heating, soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water. Squeeze out excess liquid from the gelatine leaves and stir into the hot cream until melted. Add the sugar and still until dissolved. Stir in the elderflower cordial. Remove the vanilla pod, see note below. Pour into the prepared moulds and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight until set. Continue with the recipe from paragraph 5.
Once the cream mixture has cooled, soak the gelatine leaves in bowl of cold water for about 10 minutes. Strain the cooled cream mixture through a sieve into a clean pan, discarding the elderflowers and vanilla pod. Set pan over low heat, add the sugar and bring cream mixture back to a simmer, then pour into a clean jug.
Squeeze out any excess liquid from the gelatine leaves and stir into the hot cream until melted. Keep stirring until the mixture has cooled and thickened slightly, so all the vanilla seeds do not sink to the bottom. Pour into the prepared moulds and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight until set.
To make the crumble; heat the oven to 180C/160 fan/Gas 4.While the oven is heating tip the butter into a small pan and heat gently until it has turned a deep brown and smell nutty. Pour into a bowl, place in fridge until butter becomes firm.
Rub the browned butter into the flour, stir in the sugar and ground almonds. Spread out onto a prepared tray and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden, stirring a few times. Leave to cool.
Slice the strawberries , then mix with the sugar or elderflower, set aside to macerate for 20 minutes.
To serve, turn the panna cotta out onto plates and top with strawberries and their juices. Sprinkle over crumble. Decorate with flower, if using.
Note: Rather than discard the vanilla pod, rinse it off under cold water, leave it to air dry and then place it in a jar with your caster sugar. Over time the vanilla pod will lightly scent the sugar.