Chocolate panna cotta
Makes 4 servings
This eggless custard -- called "cooked cream" in Italy -- is thickened with gelatin and flavored with chocolate. It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, but be sure to allow at least 3 hours for the dessert to chill and set. I like to serve this rich panna cotta in pretty little dessert bowls topped with crème fraîche or fresh raspberries and chocolate curls.
1 tablespoon cold water
1 teaspoon plain gelatin
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Pour the water into a small bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let stand for 3 minutes or until softened.
Stir together the cream and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When the liquid begins to form bubbles around the edges, stir in the gelatin mixture. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring for 30 seconds or until the gelatin is dissolved. Add the chocolate and whisk for 1 minute or until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Pour ½ cup of the mixture into small dessert bowls. Let cool for a few minutes, and then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.