Sunday, December 31, 2006

Cocoa Panna Cotta With Custard Sauce

Another dessert from our holiday menu, this one putting a beautiful finish on Christmas dinner, comes straight from Leite's Culinaria. The recipe can be found here and in the marvelous cookbook The Essence of Chocolate, by Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger.

I changed just one thing in the recipe, substituting Splenda granular for the sugar in the custard sauce. Because the panna cotta itself begins with caramelizing sugar, one must use granulated sugar or it won't work.

This panna cotta, or "cooked cream", is absolutely delightful: silky smooth with a just-sweet-enough-but-still-bitter cocoa and caramel flavor that marries perfectly with the smooth custard sauce. It was the perfect finish to a rather rich leg of lamb dinner (subject of a near-future post.)

Be sure to make it well in advance so it can chill in the fridge.

I must admit to having had one problem: I had a heck of a time getting the panna cottas to unmold from their souffle cups. Whether this had to do with the molds themselves or is a flaw of the recipe, I don't know. I'll be trying it again and when I do, I'll wipe a very thin film of light oil on the inside of the molds.

One more note: This recipe is very easy to make. When I found that one recipe wouldn't fill enough molds for my dinner guests, I was able to quickly whip up another batch.
Another note: Why didn't I type out the recipe for you? Well, David Leite, a dear man and my first food-writing teacher, has a really big thing about usurping copyrighted material from his web site, and from that of others as well, and from cookbooks. This list goes on.
According to my research while taking his on-line class, and the findings of others, recipes fall into a VERY gray area of copyright law, in that a list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted but the written instructions, or artistic expression, on how to assemble said list can, to put it very simplistically.
If you've been reading by blog for any length of time, you will know that I print recipes from all over the place, always giving credit where credit is due. Still, out of respect for my teacher's feelings on the issue, I do not take any recipes verbatim or otherwise from his site.
Plus, this way I get to plug Davis, his delightful writing and Leite's Culinaria by inviting you to click on the links I've provided and give him a visit.