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Lemon and Pistachio Panna Cotta

(recipe, Russ Parsons)


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Introduction

This recipe is adapted from Los Angeles pastry chef Nancy Silverton's justly celebrated version made with bitter almonds. You can serve this as is or with sugared fruit.

Ingredients

  1. 1½ cups heavy cream
  2. ¾ cup milk
  3. 3 Tbsp. sugar
  4. ½ cup chopped pistachios
  5. 2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
  6. 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
  7. 2 Tbsp. cold water, plus more if needed

Steps

  1. Combine the cream, milk, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until very warm, about 5 minutes.
  2. Combine the pistachios and lemon zest in a food processor. Pour the heated cream mixture over the top and pulse three or four times to break up the pistachios. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate for 2 hours to infuse the flavors.
  3. Place the gelatin in a large stainless-steel bowl. Pour the water over the gelatin, adding more water if necessary to moisten all of the gelatin.
  4. Place the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and heat until the gelatin melts, about 30 seconds. Do not stir, as it will scald on the sides of the bowl. Turn off the heat and keep the gelatin warm.
  5. Using your fingers, lightly coat four half-cup ramekins with vegetable oil.
  6. Bring the cream mixture to a simmer and pour it through a fine-mesh strainer over the gelatin. Whisk to combine thoroughly, scraping the bottom of the bowl to free any gelatin that may have solidified there.
  7. Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.
  8. To unmold each panna cotta, run a thin knife around the inside of the ramekin, dip the bottom in simmering water for a few seconds, and invert the panna cotta onto a plate. Serve.

Note

Culinate editor's notes: Hulled pistachios can be hard to find; you'll probably have to get dry-roasted, unsalted pistachios still in their shells and shell them individually. For a fuller Mediterranean flavor, consider using orange zest in addition to, or in place of, the lemon zest. Compared to most panna cotta recipes, this version calls for a greater proportion of milk to cream, as well as less gelatin and sugar; the resulting pudding is lighter, softer, and less sweet. The preparation techniques called for here are on the finicky side; the instructions for either Panna Cotta (Cooked Cream) or Espresso Panna Cotta are much simpler. Straining the infused cream makes for a smoother dessert, but leaving the nuts and zest in the finished pudding adds a bit of chew and crunch, as well as color. If your panna cotta won't unmold, don't fret; just serve the puddings in their ramekins.