21 July 2011

Chocolate panna cotta with vanilla rice pudding

Scientists move around. A lot. You do your graduate training in one city. Your post-doc in another. And finally you look for work, in a third city. Or fourth. Or fifth. And with super-specialized skills, at any one time there might be half a dozen jobs in the world that you're qualified for. Now, marry a scientist, and you've got a problem squared. You both have to find jobs, in super-specialized fields.

Many scientists spend their early careers living in different cities from their spouse. We didn't do that. We picked the three cities where we thought we both had a reasonable chance of getting jobs. San Diego. San Francisco. And Boston.

Naturally, many of our friends and colleagues have done the same. So when we arrived in Boston, despite the fact we've never lived here, we had friends here. And friends of friends here. So we've had more than a few invitations for dinner. Including an invite to a friend of a friend who had a pool (yay!). And celiac disease (doh!). We offered to bring dessert. Gluten-free dessert. Courtesy of Tartelette. We had a lovely time having dinner with our new friends, and look forward to having more good times with them.


We brought chocolate panna cotta with vanilla rice pudding. Slightly modified:
For the rice pudding:
1 cup rice (really the kind you like best)
1 ½ cups (315ml) whole milk (I used raw)
½ vanilla bean, split open
½ cup (60ml) heavy cream
¼ cup (50gr) sugar
Pinch of salt
Rinse the rice under cold water for a minute or two to remove the excess starch. Mix the milk, cream and rice in a heavy pot, and heat over medium until it starts to simmer.

Rice pudding

Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the rice softens. If required, add water to the mix. You don't want this to turn into a cement mixture, you want a nice, soft consistency.

In the last minutes, chop the vanilla bean lengthwise.


Scrape the seeds into the rice pudding. Add salt, and remove from heat.

Rice pudding

Pour the rice puddings into the bottoms of a few ramekins. Or if you're staying in a furnished sublet in Somerville, MA, add them to the bottoms of 6-8 coffee cups.

Rice pudding

Now make the panna cotta.
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin (2 sheets gelatin)
¼ cup water
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
13 cup honey
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
½ cup goat yogurt

Cocoa nibs, dusting of cocoa powder and fresh whipped cream (optional garnish)
Soak the gelatin sheets in ice water, or rehydrate the powdered gelatin in the ¼ cup water. I really prefer sheet gelatin. Even though it's slightly harder to get, it's really more reproducible and easier to use. You'll never screw up sheet gelatin. You might screw up with powdered. It's a crutch I approve of.

Okay. So while they're soaking, mix the milk, cream and honey.


Heat over medium heat until it starts to simmer. Squeeze the sheet gelatin to get out the excess water, then add to the milk mixture. (Alternatively, if you're using gelatin powder, pour in the hydrated mess). Stir until the gelatin dissolves.

Chop the chocolate. Or use chocolate bits. I like the bits, but I also chop. Another crutch.


Add the chocolate to the warm milk, a bit and a time. Stir until melted and mixed. Stir in the yogurt until blended.

Chocolate panna cotta

Pour on top of the rice pudding. Let cool a bit on the counter, then wrap and place in the fridge, a good four hours is required to solidify these guys. (If it's not fully solid, tell your guests it's chocolate pudding on rice pudding - they'll never know).

Whip up some whipping cream as a topping.

Whipping cream

Top with whipping cream, sprinkle on some cocoa. Serve. The kids hated it. But the adults ate the kids' leftovers.

Chocolate panna cotta

A hit. A palpable hit.


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