The countdown to the first ever Indian Food Bloggers’ Meet has begun. The organisers are busy on their toes looking into every detail. The participants? They are busy as well, cooking up storms in their kitchens and all over the internet! Oh yes, I am going to the event too. After racking my recalcitrant grey cells for several days, and after trying out several recipes in my head, some actually in the kitchen, I’ve finally gathered courage to pitch for the lovely prize announced by KitchenAid, India.
‘Cook with plums and blog about it, it’s that easy’, coaxed the organisers. Is it really? When you are setting yourself up against some of the most talented, creative cooks in the country, even an easy task can seem daunting. Still, I can always try, can’t I?
Succulent, lush plums, cooked with aromatic star anise, turned wicked and hot with a generous dash of chilli, caressed and enfolded into a milk-cream mixture and patiently allowed to set into a panna cotta. As if this was not sublime enough, a rich, buttery, crisp, orange lace cookie that holds the silky smooth, gently quivering panna cotta in its fold. This marriage of the crisp and the soft brought together with a drizzle of plum compote! What would you say?
Here is what you need to make this heavenly dessert.
For the plum compote
- Ripe plums – 250 gms, weighed after deseeding
- Sugar – 125 gms
- Star anise – 2 arms of a star anise pod
- Kashmiri chilli powder – 1 level tsp
- Wash, pat dry and stone the plums. For this, cut into half close to the seed on either side of the seed and remove seed. Retain skin+pulp.
- Place them in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the sugar and star anise, set to a medium flame and keep stirring. After 4-5 minutes, when the plums get cooked and the skins peel off, keep removing as much skin as possible with a fork. Continue stirring the mixture to avoid charring.
- When the pulp looks well cooked (about 8 minutes), add the chilli powder, mix in well and remove from fire. Once cooled,remove the star anise, run the pulp in a blender, sieve through a metal sieve and reserve the smooth compote.
For the Panna cotta
- Milk – 1 cup
- Fresh cream – 1/2 cup (I used Amul)
- Sugar – 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp extra if needed
- Agar agar – 8 gms
- Fresh water – 1cup +1/2 cup if needed
- Plum compote – 1/2 cup (Reserve the rest of prepared compote)
- Boil the milk in a saucepan, dissolve sugar in it and keep warm.
- Chop up the agar-agar strands, place in 1 cup water in a small saucepan, and bring to boil over low flame. Keep stirring continuously. When most of the strands have dissolved, pour through a metal sieve into the saucepan with milk. Return the un-dissolved strands of agar agar to the small saucepan add 1/4 cup extra water and boil again over low flame. Repeat the sieving into the milk once it is dissolved. Discard any leftover strands after this step.
- Warm the cream carefully, stirring all the time. When bubbles appear around the corners, pour the cream into the milk mixture, bring the milk saucepan to boil. Stir, stir, until the liquid is homogenous.
- Switch off flame, blend in 1/2 cup of prepared plum compote. Use a whisk if needed, make sure the compote and the milk are fully blended.
- Grease 4-5 molds (each approx. 120 ml), with a light flavourless oil. Pour the prepared panna cotta into these molds, tap the molds sharply to avoid air bubbles and set in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. I set them overnight.
For the Orange Lace Cookie (Recipe adapted from Pastry Pal)
- APF – 85 gms
- Granulated Sugar – 225 gms
- Orange Juice – 120 ml
- Melted butter – 100 ml
- Powder the sugar in a mixer to a fine powder. Once it is fine, add the measured flour to the mixer jar and run both together so that they blend well.
- Remove to a mixing bowl. Add the orange juice and whisk thoroughly until well combined.
- Now add the melted butter and keep whisking till you get a smooth batter. Leave in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next day, when you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180 C.
- Line a baking try with Silpat. If you do not have a Silpat mat, grease the baking tray ‘very generously’ with butter. You can make these cookies in batches, so use any size tray you have.
- Drop ‘only’ half teaspoonfuls of batter onto the tray leaving large gaps between each cookie batter. Bake for 5 minutes at 180 C, then reduce temperature to 170 C and bake again for 5 minutes. Watch out in the last 2 minutes. The edges should get golden and the middle should look orange-gold in hue.
- Remove tray from oven, let the cookie cool for a minute. Then ease it out gently with a metal spatula, drape over a rolling pin or katori if you want a bent shape. Else, remove to a platter to cool in a single layer. Store in an air tight box until needed.
To Assemble the Dessert
- When you are ready to serve, pour the reserved plum compote into a small saucepan, add 2 tbsp fresh water, bring to boil. Mix well and remove from fire.
- Place 1 or 2 orange lace cookies in a serving plate.
- Dip a knife in hot water. Wipe and run through the edges of the set panna cotta bowl. Loosen only the edges carefully. Invert over the waiting cookie.
- Drizzle the plum compote over the panna cotta and serve immediately. The delicate lacy crisp cookie embraces the smooth panna cotta resulting in gustatory ecstasy! Some desserts are best experienced to be believed!