“Can we make something for dessert?” Nick asked me as I was getting dinner ready last night.
“Sure, what do you want to make?”
“Remember that weird guy?”
“No, what weird guy?”
[Insert deep sigh of exasperation and a big roll of the eyes from Nick since I didn’t immediately know what he was talking about. My apologies for not being a mind reader.]
“You know, that show that we were watching the other day and you said the guy was weird?!”
“Ohhhh, yes, now I remember. Sure, we can make that.”
Now, for the record, I didn’t say the guy was weird. I said the show was weird. We were watching the premiere of “What Would Brian Boitano Make?” Yes, that Brian Boitano. Growing up, I loved watching ice skating on tv, so was very familiar with who he was and all his accomplishments. Save for the fact that he apparently loves to cook. No, I don’t think he’s weird, but the show…? Well, if you happened to catch it, you probably know exactly what I mean. It has to be one of the oddest type of cooking shows I’ve seen on Food Network, with all these little comedic offshoots and random things, but, well, it was like The Bearded Lady at the circus, and we just couldn’t look away.
I’ve never made Panna Cotta before, let alone tasted it (I know! the horror!), and this was actually my first foray into buying gelatin as well. Nick was in charge of the gelatin stage, and all the mixing, but it nearly did him in having to wait for the panna cotta to set up until today. After he was so intent on making this recipe, and his subsequent hard work, I was hoping he would like it and held my breath as he took the first bite. A few minutes later, I heard the familiar clink of the spoon hitting the bottom of the empty glass dish. He liked it, he really liked it. Phew!
It’s hard to describe panna cotta if you haven’t had it before. I’d put it in the pudding/custard/brulee category in terms of texture, although it’s different enough to be its own animal. It’s more firmer than those texture-wise, but has all the creaminess that they do as well. If you know me, you know how much I despise all things coffee, tea and otherwise hot and caffeinated. That being said, I don’t mind coffee-flavored things at all, especially when they’re cold (Hello? Starbucks? Yes, it’s me, Cate). This has just the tiniest hint of coffee flavoring – not so much that it’s overwhelming, but just enough that you know it’s there.
A perfect ending to a summer meal, and apparently kid-approved too. Direct from the kitchen of Olympic ice skating champ Brian Boitano. Wonders never cease.
Oh, and the second picture below? Taken and styled by Nick himself. Once he sees I’m done with the camera, he quietly takes it, grabs some props and scurries off to do his thing. It’s quite fun to watch him as he plays with the zoom and different angles until he gets a shot that he’s happy with. My budding partner in crime.
Cappuccino Panna Cotta
Recipe courtesy of Brian Boitano
1 (1/4-ounce) package or 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
1 cup milk
3 cups heavy cream, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (I used vanilla extract)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Ground cinnamon, for garnish
In a small bowl mix together the gelatin and 3 tablespoons of cold water and set aside to soften.
In a medium pot combine the milk, 2 1/4 cups heavy cream, sugar and salt. Put over medium heat and heat until just before it reaches a simmer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin, instant espresso powder, vanilla bean pod and seeds. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.
Arrange 10 espresso cups or 10 (4-ounce) ramekins on a baking sheet. Stir the cream mixture to reincorporate all the flavors. Remove vanilla bean pod from the cream and evenly divide the mixture between the espresso cups. Cover the cups with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
In a large cold bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup of heavy cream and the powdered sugar. Whip with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Remove the panna cotta from the refrigerator and top each cup with a heaping tablespoon of the whipped cream. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and serve.