Thursday, August 7, 2008

TEST TUBE KITCHEN - Pineapple Panna Cotta

Recently my entire existence changed when I tasted the best panna cotta I have ever had in my life. This particular cauliflower panna cotta was the topic of last week’s Fabulous Friday. Since that epiphanous culinary outing, I have been obsessed with creating new and replicating interesting twists on the panna cotta experience.

The past two weeks I have turned my kitchen into a panna cotta palace as I obsessively created diagrams, altered recipes and collected prime ingredients. Thus far, I have made over 15 different varieties of panna cotta, both sweet and savoury.

Today I have decided to share with you a recipe which was literally created in my panna cotta palace! Although the result is delicious and aromatic, it is not quite perfect. I share this recipe with you in hopes that after you attempt to create it over the weekend, you can help me get it right.

Let’s getting cooking Pineapple Panna Cotta!

Before I begin to tell you of the beautiful smell of the cooking pineapple and coconut milk or the ecstasy of eating the leftover cuttings of a perfectly ripened pineapple, I must first give you this bit of advice – NEVER PUT STEAMING HOT LIQUIDS IN A BLENDER!!!!!


Now that I have potentially saved your drink from catastrophe, let’s begin with the ingredients for Pineapple Panna Cotta:

Half a Pineapple
1 tin Coconut Milk
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 cup White Sugar
1/3 cup Milk
2 ½ tsp Gelatine
1 tsp Vanilla Essence

You may notice that there is a bottle of Frangelico in the photo. That was not to go into the recipe; it was to drink while making the Pineapple Panna Cotta.

Begin by gathering all your ingredients, utensils, blender, pan and moulds. This is immediately followed by fixing your cocktail and turning on music.

Cut the Pineapple in cubes (AFTER removing the skin and core).

Pour another cocktail.

Next in a bowl put 1/2 cup Milk and sprinkle Gelatine over milk, let stand.
Next mix the Pineapple, Coconut Milk, Heavy Cream, Sugar & several dashes of Vanilla Essence in a sauce pan. Place on medium heat and bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally.

Pour another cocktail.

I was in heaven by the smells wafting from the stovetop. The tropical scent of the pineapple mixed with the rich, warm aroma of the cream had me floating around the kitchen. I wish I could capture that scent in a candle.

Pour another cocktail. Dance to music.

As the Pineapple chunks tenderise and the creamy mixture come to a boil, remove it from heat and dump the contents into a blender and pulse until smooth.

The picture I did not take was of the blender exploding steaming hot pineapple cream all over the kitchen walls, decorating my laptop and smothering my hair with tropical island lather.

Pour another cocktail.

Place what is left of the Pineapple mixture back into the pan and stir in the gelatine and milk mixture. Bring to boil for one minute, stirring constantly.

Next pour the mixture into ramekins / moulds / martini glasses / coffee mugs / ashtrays and bring to room temperature. Then chill for at least 4 hours or overnight, ideally.

Pour another cocktail.

To remove panna cotta from ramekins / moulds place in warm water for 5 seconds. Put chilled plate over top of moulds, holding on to the plate and the mould, flip the plate over and shake the panna cotta loose.

I originally was going to make a ginger jelly and use crushed macadamia nuts to top the Pineapple Panna Cotta. I ran out of time to make the ginger jelly and I forgot to buy macadamia nuts. So I used thickened cream and crushed cashews.

Time for the taste test!

The flavour is very strong pineapple, slightly subdued by the cream and coconut milk. It was also runnier than a panna cotta should be, which means I may have to increase the amount of gelatine to 3 tsp.

This panna cotta has promise, but it needs some tweaking to make it perfection! This is where I need your help. After you make this recipe to your own specifications, give me your thoughts on what made or would make it perfect!


- Increase gelatine to 3 tsp
- Try vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract
- Strain pineapple bits from mixture after pureeing in the blender, if this takes away some of the pineapple flavour, you may want to use the strained pineapple chunks to create a gelee as garnish.
- Make smaller portions, garnish generously with fresh ginger and serve in between courses as a palate cleanser (instead of the traditional citrus sorbet).
- Make fancy white chocolate nests to use as garnish, garnish place with crushed macadamia nuts, and use pineapple leaf to add height.


I initially started out with Frangelico over ice. Another word of advice, Frangelico and pineapple DO NOT play well together. So I recommend to you a Pink Grapefruit Martini. This consists of 60ml Campari and 120ml Cointreau topped with soda water.


Original Cast Recording of “Mame” starring Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur.

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