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Panna Cotta...recipes AND cookware

I am going to be making Panna Cotta for a group of friends this weekend, about 12-14 people.
First question in order is:
Do I have to go out and buy ramakens for all 12-14, or can i just put the panna cotta in a muffin tray to set? If i can put them in Muffin tray, is there anything special i need to line the tray with?

Also, was looking at a handful of recipes from the Joy of Cooking, some Barefoot Contessa, Giada's as well as a Mark Bittman one...is there any recipe that stands out as particularly smashing that i NEED to make?
I was also going to make a chocolate sauce with toasted hazelnuts to go with it...does that sound okay?

thanks! and like i said, my number one question is in regards to the cookware of my panna cotta-ing.

molly

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  1. The only cooking when making panna cotta is bringing the cream to a boil before adding the gelatin. The rest is letting it set in the fridge, just like making jello. Thus you let it set in almost anything. That could be individual serving sizes, or one large container, which you then cut up for serving. When I made a mango-passion fruit panna cotta, I just let it set in a shallow plastic storage container (4 cup Rubbermaid).

    So it is really presentation that dictates the 'cookware', not heat.

    paulj

    1. I have made panna cotta in small plastic cups - the simple, inexpensive kind used at wine receptions. They unmold nicely if you poke a hole in the top (bottom of the cup) to let air in.

      BB

      2 Replies
      1. re: Big Bunny

        I've used Martha Stewart's buttermilk panna cotta recipe with great success. I like to serve it with macerated strawberries.

        I used any small container. I look for something that is smooth, that is deeper than it is wider. Ramekins, demitasse cups, square sauce bowls, etc.

        My trick with plastic molds, I wipe the interior of the container with a paper towel that has a tiny amount of vegetable oil. A thin, sheer coat is all it needs.

        Also, when unmolding, I run the tip of a sharp knife completely around the edge of the mold, just a few millimeters below the surface. I then ready my serving dish/plate with a drop of water (it helps the panna cotta move on the dish) I then take the tip of the knife and slide it 1/4 down the side of the mold & simultaneously tip the mold to it's side over the serving dish/plate. The knife down the side creates an air pocket and helps the panna cotta pop right out onto the dish. The droplet of water on the plate should help you slide the panna cotta to center it nicely.

        If the edges are marred I pour the strawberries around the panna cotta like a lovely red moat.

        Here are photos of panna cotta I made in plastic Hello Kitty molds I found at the Japanese Dollar store in SF.

         
         
        1. re: rilkeanheart

          Those are really cute! I'm going to have to find fun molds for that.

      2. I prefer panna cotta with fruit sauces rather than chocolate sauce. Panna cotta is such a rich dessert that it's nice to have a tart sauce to cut the creaminess.

        If you don't have ramekins, I would make it in one large pan and then scoop it into small bowls. Or, if you have a collection of cute glasses (short glasses, martini glasses, etc) I'd portion it into those and just serve in the glass.

        3 Replies
        1. re: leanneabe

          I agree on both counts. I like fresh fruit on panna cotta more than chocolate. And, I make individual size panna cottas in any small containers, but glass is especially pretty w/ fruit. I would not do it in a muffin tray, though. If you want to unmold them, you'd have to do them all at once and hope they all come out. If they don't, you'd have to fiddle w/ a large tray.

          This is a simple recipe that I like:

          http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

          1. re: chowser

            That's it!? Wow, thank you chowser for the pointer. Delicious stuff.

            Hmmm, I wonder if there's a panna cotta ice cream........

            1. re: dolores

              I've seen panna cotta gelato at my local grocery store and Italian pastry shop.

        2. Since Panna Cotta is usually served unmolded I'd think silicone bakeware would work and the flexiblity would make it easier to pop it out. Wilton sells some individual ones for cupcake making that would make for an interesting pattern...they have a bunch of different types - Hearts for valentines day, weird little footed ones heh: http://www.cupcakefun.com/store/index...

          1. One of my favorite panna cotta recipes is Suzanne Goin's Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta with strawberries. I love the tang from the creme fraiche.

            Report w/pic and info here.
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39707...

            and another:
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39707...

            3 Replies
            1. re: Rubee

              Thank you, thank you all! this has been MOST helpful and knowing the trick with the plastic wine cups is key.
              it sounds like it should come out just like a flan might...yes?
              Rubee, you're in Boston right? do you think that Russo's will have good strawberries this time of year?

              and thanks for the feedback on using fruit sauce instead of the chocolate sauce. we're going to have an abundance of different foods that evening and lighter will probably be more easily received.
              you guys are the best :)

              1. re: mollyditty

                They are similar to flan. Be careful putting the air hole in the top. Those cups can produce tiny, sharp chips. I don't remember if I needed hot water besides putting in the hole.

                BB

                1. re: mollyditty

                  Hi Mollyditty. It's embarassing to admit as a Chowhound, but I still haven't been to Russo's, but that would probably be the first place I would check. Be sure to report back!