Recipe: Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Apricot Gelée

Panna Cotta, an Italian dessert of silky, sweetened cream set with gelatin, is all at once simple, classic and elegant.  It is, at its best, subtle, not overly sweet, and the perfect way to end a meal on a light and refreshing note.
Panna cotta comes together quickly and can be molded in any type of vessels you choose -- from ramekins to demitasse, martini glasses to mason jars.  I like to compliment my panna cotta with a thin layer of gelée -- a gelatin stabilized glaze made from fresh fruit.  Apricots are in season right now, and are bursting with summer sweetness, so I chose to do an apricot gelée.  You can use my recipe with any type of fruit you'd like.  
Here are some photos of panna cottas I've made in the past with a variety of gelées and vessels:
Vanilla Panna Cotta with a Honey Gelée and Bee Pollen
Lemon Panna Cotta, no gelée
Meyer-Lemon Panna Cotta, Strawberry-Rhubarb Gelee

I like to decorate my desserts with edible flowers, especially in summer and springtime. My theme fo…

How to Make Robins' Egg Truffles

Days are longer, trees are bursting with flowers, and new life is hatching all around -- It's Spring!  

I believe in celebrating life's sweet moments and enjoy dreaming up whimsical confections to make those moments even sweeter. So last year, for the Spring Fling at Mine for the Making, I hatched a new idea for a chocolate truffle, inspired by one of the most lovely, delicate, and sweet symbols of Spring -- the robin's egg.  Today I'm sharing my recipe for these speckled sweets here in my own creative nesting place.



9 oz. semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream (not "whipping cream" or "half and half")
1 Tablespoon butter (this makes the truffle silkier)
10 oz. white candy bark
Blue food coloring
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder

Baking sheet or tray lined with wax paper
Cool, damp cloth
Candy dipping fork
a fine sieve

1.  In a small bowl, add chocolate and cream. Microwave for 1 - 1 1/12 minutes (to bring cream to a gentle boil).  

2.  Remove from microwave and let stand for 3 minutes.  This will allow time for the chocolate to completely melt. Use a spoon or small whisk to combine cream and melted chocolate until smooth and fully incorporate. Stir in butter. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

3.  Remove from refrigerator and use a small scoop to portion chocolate ganache on to the wax paper lined baking sheet.  Working in a cool room is recommended.

4.  Gently roll each ganache ball between your palms, and use your fingers to smooth into an egg shape and set back on tray.   If ganache is too soft and immediately melts in your hands, put the tray back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Try again. Your hands will get very chocolaty during this process, and it will be necessary to wipe them down periodically with a cool, damp cloth.  Place completed tray of ganache eggs in the freezer for 1 hour.

5.  Finely chop the white candy bark.  Melt in microwave on low power in 1 minute increments, stirring in-between. When bark is completely melted, add a drop of blue food coloring and stir.  Continue to add food coloring, one drop at a time, until you've achieved the desired robin's egg color.

6.  Remove "eggs" from freezer. Drop one "egg" into blue bark. Gently turn to coat with a candy dipping fork.  Lift out of bark, gently tap off excess and place back on wax paper.  Repeat with remaining "eggs."

7.  To finish, put the cocoa in a fine sieve.  Ever so gently, shake sieve over each "egg" to create the trademark speckles.  Practice a few shakes over a piece of paper before you start speckling the eggs.


SKILL LEVEL -- MEDIUM:  Dipping the egg shaped truffles in the melted bark can be a little tricky because the ganache melts at such a low heat.  Unlike many of my chocolate dipping projects, this one is probably best reserved for those with some candy dipping experience. Don't be disappointed if your "eggs" aren't perfect. Mine weren't. Each one is unique and very delicious!

ALTERNATIVE:  The beginner candymaker may want to make the robin's eggs using a "cake pop" recipe to mold cake into the egg shapes. The effect will be the same, but you won't have to worry about your eggs melting into your bark, or getting stuck to your dipping fork.

TOOLS:  I recommend purchasing a dipping fork for any candymaker. They can be picked up quite inexpensively at most craft stores with a cake decorating aisle. You may also line your tray or baking pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.  I recommend wax paper for candymaking because it is the least expensive. Because no baking is involved, it is safe to use.  On some of my eggs, a small pool of bark formed at the bottom. You can trim this away once the bark has set by using a small paring knife, or a craft knife.  

DISPLAY:  For fun and whimsy, I served my robin's egg truffles in fringed mini muffin cups.  I layered two cups, fringed them with scissors, then set the egg inside.

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