Thursday, April 8, 2010

Panna Cotta "Eggs"

These looked almost TOO much like wiggly soft-boiled eggs to enjoy as a dessert, but they were fun to make!  The shell is constructed by spreading melted, cooled white chocolate (about 3/4 of a bag) over partially inflated balloons.  The white chocolate was pretty hard to work with - it refused to melt into a smooth, glossy liquid like normal chocolate - so my "egg shells" ended up a little, um, rustic looking... If you like regular chocolate better than white chocolate, and you don't care about creating an authentic looking egg, go with regular chocolate for ease of construction (you could pretend it was a really really dark brown egg!).  If I made these again I'd stick with white chocolate despite its relative fussiness because I personally think lemon tastes gross with regular chocolate (as does any fruit. That includes raspberry!). 

The hardest part of this whole process is inflating the balloons.  I think I must be a sissy or something because I could not inflate a single balloon to save my life!  I finally gave up and had to enlist my younger brother (whom, I might add, has chronic lung problems, yet had no trouble blowing up those suckers). 

Two balloon tips: 1) don't over inflate them... you're going for chicken eggs, not ostrich eggs; and 2) do NOT spread the chocolate on the balloons until it has cooled or you will create a chocolate hand grenade instead of a chocolate egg-shell. 

As the chocolate hardens, the balloons will begin to deflate.  Snip a tiny hold in the deflated portion of the balloon and SLOWLY let the air escape.  Peel the balloon off the chocolate to reveal a cute little eggshell cup!

Panna cotta with a dollop of lemon curd mimics the eggy innards to complete the look.  For some reason, my panna cotta started to weep, which normally irritates me, but in this case it worked with my theme because it looked like wet egg-white (slightly unappetizing, but oh well).

Panna Cotta
3 c. heavy cream, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. gelatin
1/4 c. water

Lemon Curd
1/2 c. sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 stick softened butter
2 tsp. grated lemon rind 

To make the panna cotta, combine the sugar and half the cream in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir to dissolve the sugar, and bring to a simmer.  Turn off the heat.  Pour 1/4 c. water in small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top.  Let sit for a few minutes so the gelatin can soften.  Add the gelatin mixture to the cream and sugar and stir well to combine.  Add the remaining cream and the vanilla, stir.  Put the liquid panna cotta mixture in the fridge until you have completed the lemon curd (but don't take forever or you'll end up with a big pitcher of firm panna cotta!)

Make the lemon curd: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, egg yolks, and lemon juice over low heat.  Stir constantly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and stir in the butter and the grated lemon rind.  Set the lemon curd in the fridge to cool.

Remove the panna cotta from the fridge and carefully fill each egg-cup.

Place filled egg cups in the fridge until the panna cotta has hardened completely.  When firm, add a spoonful of lemon curd yolk.

I think I might try adding the lemon curd to the center of the panna cotta before it hardens next time to see if it solves the gross wet weeping problem.  It really did look like an egg...

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