Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Spice is Right #2: Sweet or Savoury

Barbara from Tigers & Strawberries has come upon a most challenging theme for the second edition of The Spice is Right. We're to take a spice that's used in our "native cuisine" and then utilise it in an opposite manner.

A classic Italian dish is Risotto Milanese and it's most well known for it's use of Saffron, so for this event, I'm going to take a classic Italian dessert, Panna Cotta and add saffron.

spanish saffron

There is something quite wonderful about Saffron - whether it is the delightful colour it imparts or it's unique taste. It seems every where I looked over the last week, there was a story on TV or articles about Saffron.

One interesting point was in how to tell you have good quality saffron. Good saffron takes time to release it's colour, it will though impart it's flavour, so you need to be aware and let taste be the guide not the colour. Apparently with Tasmanian Saffron you should let it soak for a few hours and up to 24, if you are looking for that vibrant colour.


Saffron Panna Cotta with Saffron Syrup

500ml cream
60g caster sugar
2 Titanium Gelatine sheets (see below for notes on Gelatine)
pinch saffron threads

Saffron Syrup
pinch saffron threads
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water

To make the Syrup:
Let the saffron threads soak in the water overnight.

Next day, strain the water into a pan and add sugar. Heat until sugar is dissolved then simmer under it's reduced slightly. Set aside to cool.

To make the Panna Cotta:
In a saucepan and under a gentle heat, place cream, sugar and saffron and bring to near boiling point.

Strain into a jug.

Soak the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water until they soften. Remove from water, squeeze dry then add to hot cream mixture, stir well to combine.

Pour into moulds and place in the fridge to set. Ideally you'll leave these overnight.

To serve:
Depending on the type of moulds used you can serve them as is, or turn them out. You'll notice that there isn't a huge colour shift but there is, most importantly the wonderful taste of saffron wrapped in the silky smoothness of the Panna Cotta.

In the photo above I've turned it from the mould and drizzled over some of the cooled Saffron Syrup.

The ones shown below, would be served in the glass, perfect as finger food, with Saffron syrup offered to taste - just a thin layer over the top will do.


and finally this is unmoulded and topped with Persian Fairy Floss, which gives it a more middle eastern feel


Notes on Gelatine:
The amount of gelatine required is dependant on it's grade. If you are using "titanium" gelatine than the rule is that 1 sheet will be able to set 250ml of liquid. If you use a lower level of gelatine, it might be labelled "gold" then 3 sheets will be needed to set 250ml of liquid.
A similar problem exists with using powdered gelatine as it's available by weight or in sachets. Following the guidelines, 2 teaspoons will set 250ml of liquid so for this recipe use 4 teaspoons.

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  1. AnonymousMay 16, 2006

    that looks divine - the soft colour of the panna cotta is just superb!

    By the way, love your scrolls in the post below as well - they look super easy, which helps!

  2. Thanks so much Ellie! The dough for the scrolls have such a lovely colour due to the orange juice and a really nice texture too. I look forward to seeing your batch!

  3. Oh major drool ... two of my favourite things combined in one! Yums!

  4. Thanks MM! They really did come together is such a lovely way.

  5. HI,
    i liked your safforn panna cotta.
    Going to try it soon.

  6. Thanks Vineela! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

  7. AnonymousMay 20, 2006

    Haalo, thanks so much for the info on gelatine - I've been trying to work out how much to use. I made a lemon/lime cheesecake the other day that tasted fabulous, but the filling just wouldn't set! One question ... would the freshness of powdered gelatine make a difference?

    Also, the scrolls look gorgeous, I will definitely be trying this recipe.

    Thanks Haalo, great blog


  8. Hi Maggie

    First thing to do is to work out if you've used enough gelatine to liquid level.

    There are probably three things that could hinder gelatine's setting ability - certain fruit enzymes, high acid fruits and even high sugar levels. Could be that the lemon/lime affected the gelatine, so you'd probably have to increase the amount of gelatine you used.

    I'm not too sure about freshness - but if it's within the use-by/best-by date I don't think that should be a problem.

    Hope that helps and if you have any other questions, I'll answer them if I can.

    Thank you for the comments and have fun with those scrolls!


  9. God you are amazing. AMAZING!!

    What is Persian Floss

    My Life As A Reluctant Housewife

  10. Thanks Gabriella!

    Fairy Floss is what americans call Candy Floss. Now Persian fairy floss or pashmak is made with sugar and sesame oil and spun in a similar way as normal fairy floss. The one I used here was a plain vanilla flavour but you can get chocolate, saffron, rose and pistachio versions as well.
    You can find more info here at www.pariyafood.com

  11. The Persian fairy floss!!!! I must try that! I've never heard of it before

  12. It's fabulous Jaden - you might also find it called Pashmak. This is the brand I used and it also comes in a range of flavours


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