Today I decided to make an Italian-Indian dish that features two of my favorite flavors and caffeine sources: black tea (in the form of a chai mix) and chocolate. Although widely separated in terms of geography, it turns out that this classic Italian dessert and popular Indian beverage make quite the flavorful pair! To make classic panna cotta, milk and cream are heated with a bit of sugar, gelatin and vanilla and poured into individual molds. This panna cotta however is enriched with the flavors of tea, cinnamon, cardamom, and my favorite: black pepper, which gives the dessert a subtly spicy kick. The panna cotta is topped with a creamy chocolate ganache that pairs wonderfully with the spices in the cream, resulting in an international dessert that is not only easy to make but also incredibly delicious!
I hope you enjoy making it and eating it and if you have any questions or comments let me know!
Step 1: Ingredients
For Chai Panna Cotta:
(original panna cotta ratio from TheKitchn)
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1 1/2 cups of whole milk
2 1/4 teaspoons of powdered gelatin (which is equivalent to one Knox envelope)
1/3 cup of sugar
4 bags of black tea
1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper
15 cardamom pods
3 sticks of cinnamon
For Creamy Ganache:
55 grams dark chocolate
40 mL heavy cream
Another 60 mL of heavy cream to be added in a later stage of the recipe
Step 2: Crush Spices
Using a mortar and pestle, crush the cardamom and pepper until they are coarsely ground. Even though it's not pictured, I later decided to also crush the cinnamon sticks a bit to increase their surface area.
Step 3: Bloom Gelatin and Heat Cream
Measure the milk in a bowl and add the powdered gelatin in a thin layer (as thin as possible at least!) and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the cream and the sugar to a saucepan and heat until steaming, not boiling. Add the milk and gelatin mixture and whisk until combined.
Step 4: Finish the Panna Cotta
Turn off the heat and add the four tea bags and the crushed spices, let sit, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Strain the mixture into a container with a spout (to facilitate pouring) and divide the mixture into four cups or ramekins. Put the filled cups in the fridge overnight.
Step 5: Make the Creamy Ganache
Chop 55 grams of dark chocolate (which is equivalent to four Ghirardelli squares, in case that's what you have!).
In a small saucepan, heat 40 mL of heavy cream (it's a very small amount, so make sure to keep an eye on it!).
When the cream is steaming, add the chopped chocolate and stir until combined (you can see the result in the third image).
To this mixture add 60 mL of cold heavy cream and combine (result in fourth image).
Place the chocolate cream in the freezer for 10 minutes to bring it back to fridge temperature (this will make it easier to whip).
Once the chocolate cream is cold resist all urges to eat it by itself and with the help of a hand mixer, whip until soft peaks form.
Now you're ready to plate!
Step 6: Assemble
Take the panna cottas out of the fridge before serving and top with a dollop of creamy ganache, a dusting of cocoa and chocolate curls, but you can decorate them with whatever you have (powdered sugar or fancy gold leaf maybe!).