Summer on a plate: white chocolate-flavoured vanilla custards wobbling in a pool of strawberry soup. You could make the panna cottas a day in advance but, I think, the strawberry soup is best made on the day. The white chocolate gives the panna cottas a little more sturdiness so you shouldn’t have too much trouble unmoulding them and they set well in 5-6 hours. Unless there’s a sudden heatwave (I live in hope), I would leave the panna cottas out at room temperature for about 30-40 minutes before serving.
I need hardly add that British home-grown strawberries are your best bet for full-on flavour. If you don’t have small dariole moulds use ramekins but you may only get 6 helpings out of the mixture as ramekins tend to hold about 150ml.
- For the panna cottas
- 3 leaves gelatine, about 6g
- 400ml whipping cream
- 2 vanilla pods, split lengthways
- 85g caster sugar
- 100g white chocolate, finely chopped
- 250g tub mascarpone
- For the strawberry soup
- 780g strawberries, hulled
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3-4 tablespoons icing sugar (to taste)
- To serve, sliced strawberries, mint sprigs and edible flowers (optional)
- Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for 10 minutes to soften. Line 8, 110ml, dariole moulds with a disc of non-stick baking parchment.
- Pour the whipping cream into a saucepan and add the split vanilla pods. Over a low heat bring to a boil. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the sugar and white chocolate until they have melted. Lift the softened gelatine out of the water and stir into the cream. Leave for 30 minutes to cool.
- Put the mascarpone in a mixing bowl and gradually beat in the cooled cream mixture. You may need to whisk with an electric whisk or balloon whisk to get rid of any lumps. Pour the mixture into the prepared moulds and chill for at least 5-6 hours until firm.
- For the strawberry soup, place the strawberries, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor or liquidiser. Blend to a smooth purée. Taste and add the extra sugar if you feel it is necessary.
- Pour the strawberry mixture through a fine sieve to remove the tiny seeds. Pour into a jug.
- To serve, about 1 hour before you are ready to eat, unmould the panna cottas by running a knife around the edge to loosen or dip the moulds in boiling water for 10 -20 seconds. Turn out onto the centre of each serving bowl and peel off the paper. Pour the strawberry soup around the panna cottas and decorate with strawberries and mint.