Basil Panna Cotta with Peach Purée

A couple of years ago I did an evening course to refresh my Italian.  I gave up after about 4 semesters as it all went too slowly for my taste due to us being a mixed group, some with a better grip on the language, and some who still didn’t grasp the basics after all that time.  What I took away from this course were two new friends.  I meet with those two once a month, we never run out of things to talk about, but we never talk in or about Italian.  To my other friends, these two are known as “the Italian girls”.

Last night we met at my place, and I cooked for them – Italian, what else…  For dessert I made basil panna cotta with peach purée.  I saw this recipe in a magazine from Habitat, originally with redcurrants.  I just had some peach purée at a party last weekend, so I skipped the currants and substituted them for the peach purée instead.  Even if I say so myself – this panna cotta is absolutely gorgeous!  I already know it will become a favourite.  The basil gives this panna cotta a lovely mint green colour, and the (not too sweet) peach purée really complements it perfectly.

Basil Panna Cotta 01

Basil Panna Cotta with Peach Purée

Panna Cotta
4 gelatine sheets*
500 ml cream
40 g sugar
zest of 1 lemon
100 g basil
1 packet vanilla sugar

*Note: 1 German gelatine sheet is 12 x 7 cm in size. This might vary in other countries!

Basil Panna Cotta 02

Peach Purée
canned peaches (approx. 850 g) incl. juice
1 stick cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
1 packet vanilla sugar
juice of ½ a lemon

Feeds 4

I used only about 70 g of basil.  Before I started on this recipe, I had no idea how many pots of basil I’d need to get 100 g of leaves.  Turned out I would have needed 3 pots but only had 2, so that’s the amount I used.  Also, the leaves of those 2 pots combined looked a lot, and I didn’t want the basil to be too overpowering.  The amount I used turned out to be just perfect.  What I also changed was the quantity of cream – the original called for 350 ml, but I used 500 ml for the sole reason that I always use that amount in my other panna cotta recipes.  However, next time I might either reduce to 350 ml, or just make smaller portions as these were a bit on the large side for that amount of cream, and so a bit rich.

Basil Panna Cotta 03

For the panna cotta, soak gelatine in cold water.  Combine cream, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla sugar, and bring to boil.  Take off the heat, add half of the basil leaves and let sit for 20 minutes.

Pour through a sieve, discarding the basil leaves.  Squeeze out gelatine and dissolve in the still warm basil cream.  Let cool slightly.

Roughly chop or tear remaining basil leaves, add to cream and purée with a hand-held blender.  Pour into 4 glasses or moulds [I used smallish coffee cups] and refrigerate for about 5 hours.

For the peach purée, cut up the peach halves and purée with a hand-held blender.  Combine approximately one third of the fruit juice, the cinnamon stick, vanilla sugar, lemon juice and a pinch of cloves and bring to a boil.  Remove cinnamon stick.  Mix about 1 tbsp of the liquid with 2 tsp of cornflour and quickly add it to the remaining liquid.  Don’t let it sit because it’ll get too thick otherwise.

Turn the panna cotta out on plates and decorate with the peach purée.  I tried out one of my new decorating gadgets for this, and it turned out beautiful.  I really can’t wait to make this again and impress some more people with it!

Basil Panna Cotta 04