One of the inspirations for this dessert is our, one and only, visit to Zengo few years ago. It was my birthday, all dressed up, we were looking forward to this Latin-Asian fusion experience. Even though I made reservation well in advance we waited an hour until seated. Since this post is not a restaurant review I won't go into the attitude the hostesses displayed. The atmosphere was hip, young and crowded at the first floor bar. We were seated upstairs, by the stairs, although had great view of the kitchen and a panoramic view of this beautiful space, felt a bit exposed. The food was good but the dessert was what stood out. Throughout the evening waiters were passing by with this delicate pale 'jiggly', almost surreal and haunting white moving through space. It was bewitching. Couldn't wait to share it with Jonathan. It was a sublime sophistication. A combination of coconut and white chocolate panna cotta. Growing up we made gelee terrine at home. When I saw these beautiful knobby, California Minneola Tangelos at Whole Foods at $2.99/3lbs, I had to have them, a plan was emerging in my mind. Passover is around the corner and I try to give tradition a twist. Decided on coconut panna cotta taking coconut from the traditional Passover coconut macaroon and my Indian everything coconut heritage, and pair it with Tangelo gelee reminiscent of my childhood and the bygone Israeli Jaffa citrus and orchards. It's an elegant dessert for any holiday or a romantic dinner. I try to have Passover kosher style, so I used vegetarian kosher gelatin.
Coconut Panna Cotta
about 8 servings
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
Fresh coconut shavings (optional - shave with a potato peeler)
Make a hole in the coconut and drain the milk. Strain coconut milk. Crack the coconut and take coconut out of the shell. Can use a screwdriver. Add fresh coconut milk, milk, whipping cream, sugar and coconut flakes into a sauce pan. In a small bowl add gelatin and six teaspoons of cold water and let dissolve. Once coconut mixture comes to a boil, turn down heat to low, mix until sugar dissolves, add gelatin mixture and mix until it dissolves. Take off the heat, let cool for a little strain and pour 3/4 up into eight molds or ramekins. Do strain mixure prior to pouring into molds or ramekins to get a smooth silky consistency. Let cool completely outside, wrap with plastic wrap and keep in refrigerator for at least 3 hours (can keep for few hours longer) until custard settles and gels.
Minneola Tangelo Gelee
2 cup plus *couple tablespoons fresh Minneola Tangelo juice (from approx 8 tangelos)
6-8 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
*Note, extra couple of tablespoons of juice is to compensate for evaporation.
In a small bowl add 4 teaspoons cold water to gelatin and let dissolve. Strain juice through a sieve. Add strained juice and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil Turn down heat, add gelatin to juice mixture, simmer and mix until dissolves. Take off heat and strain mixture. Let cool a bit and fairly quickly fill up chilled panna cotta molds and ramekins almost to the lip of molds and ramekins. Let cool outside, wrap with plastic wrap and store in fridge overnight.
Prior to serving:
1. If at this stage you are ready to serve, immerse molds and ramekins in a warm (from faucet) water bath in deep rectangular baking dish, it will loosen up the custard in moments. Don't over immerse it will turn the custard into liquid. Put a dessert plate on top of mold or ramekin and flip, dessert should slide easily into plate. Garnish with fresh coconut shavings and Minneola tangelo slices on the side.
2. If you made this dessert few days in advance. At this stage, move to freezer section. A day prior to serving move back to refrigerator to thaw. Just before serving immerse in a warm (from faucet) water bath, in deep rectangular baking dish, it will loosen up the custard in moments. Don't over immerse it will turn to liquid form again, Put a dessert plate on top of mold or ramekin and flip, dessert should slide easily into plate. Garnish with fresh coconut shavings and Minneola tangelo slices on the side.
Note ot Gelatin:
Gelatin varies from one type to another There is fish, vegetarian, and other animal gelatins. I found that certain gelatins gel firmer than others.
Note on equipment:
I used classic ramekins, but also these molds I got years ago at one of those Tapperware, Pampered Chef's parties. Never used them in the past, thought that the crevices and angles will make it harder to invert out of molds, but because they were plastic and somewhat flexible, and had lids at bottom and top, I did not have to immerse them in a warm bath, and just pushed them out from the bottom. It slid right out. Use any molds, ramekins you have at home, improvise, you can also use espresso cups. You can serve the panna cotta in the ramekins and save yourself some time.