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Earl Grey Panna Cotta is a delectable twist on the classic Italian dessert. It’s a silky-smooth, creamy custard infused with the aromatic flavors of Earl Grey tea. The subtle notes of bergamot in the tea elevate the dessert to a new level of sophistication, while the velvety texture of the panna cotta melts in your mouth.
Earl Grey tea is a famous blend, known for its distinct flavor derived from the oil of bergamot, a citrus fruit with the appearance and flavor somewhere between an orange and a lemon. The tea itself is typically a blend of black teas, and the addition of bergamot oil imparts a delicate citrusy and slightly floral aroma that is both refreshing and soothing. The unique combination of flavors has made Earl Grey a beloved choice for tea enthusiasts around the world.
Occasions Suitable for This Dessert:
- Afternoon Tea: Earl Grey Panna Cotta is an elegant choice for an afternoon tea gathering. Its refined flavors pair beautifully with tea and finger sandwiches.
- Dinner Parties: Serve this as a sophisticated dessert at dinner parties. Its lightness makes it a perfect ending to a meal.
- Special Occasions: Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, or holiday celebration, this panna cotta adds a touch of elegance to any special occasion.
- Just Because: You don’t need a special occasion to enjoy this dessert. It’s simple enough to make for a weeknight treat when you want something indulgent.
- Medium saucepan: For heating the cream, milk, and steeping the Earl Grey tea.
- Small bowl: For blooming the gelatin in cold water.
- Measuring cups and spoons: For accurately measuring ingredients.
- Whisk: For mixing ingredients and ensuring a smooth texture.
- Fine mesh strainer: For straining the tea leaves or tea bags from the cream mixture.
- Spatula: For stirring and scraping the sides of the saucepan.
- Ramekins or panna cotta molds: For shaping the panna cotta. You can also use small cups or glasses if you plan to serve the panna cotta without unmolding.
- Cling film or plastic wrap: For covering the ramekins/molds before refrigerating.
- Microplane or zester: If using lemon zest in the panna cotta or for the lemon curd.
- Additional saucepan and bowl (for lemon curd): If making lemon curd, you will need an additional saucepan for cooking and a bowl for whisking eggs and sugar.
- Spoon: For drizzling honey or adding lemon curd to the top of the panna cotta.
- Knife: If using lemon zest, for zesting the lemon.
Note: If you are using loose leaf tea, you might also want to use a tea infuser or tea ball to make it easier to remove the tea leaves from the cream mixture.
List of Ingredients for the Earl Grey Panna Cotta:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 Earl Grey tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose leaf Earl Grey tea
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) unflavored gelatin
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Optional: Zest of 1/2 a lemon for an extra citrus note
List of Ingredients for the Optional Lemon Curd or Honey Topping:
For Lemon Curd:
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For Honey Topping:
- Honey (as much as desired for drizzling)
Steeping the Earl Grey Tea in Cream:
- In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream and whole milk.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat until it's hot but not boiling.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, and add the Earl Grey tea bags or loose leaf tea. If using loose leaf tea, you can place it in a tea infuser or tea ball.
- Cover the saucepan and let the tea steep in the hot cream mixture for about 10-15 minutes. This allows the flavors to infuse into the cream.
- After steeping, remove the tea bags or strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove loose tea leaves.
Mixing and Heating the Panna Cotta Ingredients:
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to bloom (it should swell and soften).
- Return the saucepan with the cream mixture to low heat. Add the granulated sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the bloomed gelatin to the saucepan and whisk continuously until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Do not let the mixture boil.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. If using lemon zest, add it now and stir to combine.
- Let the mixture cool slightly, for about 5 minutes.
Pouring into Molds and Refrigerating:
- Pour the panna cotta mixture into ramekins, molds, or small cups, leaving some space at the top if you plan to add toppings later.
- Cover the ramekins with cling film or plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface.
- Place the ramekins in the refrigerator and let them set for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, until the panna cotta is firm and set.
- Once set, the panna cotta can be served in the ramekins, or you can unmold them by running a knife around the edge and inverting onto a plate.
Note: If you're using lemon curd as a topping, you can prepare it while the panna cotta is setting in the refrigerator.
You can either use lemon curd or honey as a topping, or offer both options for guests to choose from.
How to Serve the Earl Grey Panna Cotta:
- If serving in ramekins or cups, simply place them on a plate or tray.
- If unmolding, gently run a knife around the edge of the panna cotta and invert onto a serving plate. Give it a gentle shake to help it release.
- Serve chilled, as panna cotta is best enjoyed cold.
Optional Toppings (Lemon Curd or Honey):
- Lemon Curd: If you have prepared lemon curd, place a dollop on top of each panna cotta. You can also use a small spoon to create a swirl or pattern with the curd.
- Honey: Drizzle a small amount of honey over the top of the panna cotta for a touch of sweetness and flavor.
- Garnish: You can also garnish with a small sprig of mint or a slice of lemon for an added touch of elegance.
Storage and Leftovers
How to Store the Earl Grey Panna Cotta:
- Keep the panna cotta in the refrigerator, covered with cling film or plastic wrap to prevent it from absorbing any odors from the fridge.
- If you’ve used lemon curd as a topping, it’s especially important to keep it refrigerated as the eggs and butter in the curd are perishable.
- The panna cotta should be consumed within 2-3 days for the best flavor and texture. The lemon curd, if used, will also last for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Frequently Asked Questions
Substitutes for Ingredients:
- Earl Grey Tea: If you don’t have Earl Grey tea, you can use any other flavored tea that you like. Chai or jasmine tea can also work well.
- Heavy Cream: If you want a lighter version, you can use half-and-half or a mixture of milk and cream. For a dairy-free version, you can use coconut milk or almond milk.
- Gelatin: For a vegetarian version, you can use agar-agar as a substitute for gelatin. Use the same amount as you would use gelatin.
- Granulated Sugar: You can substitute granulated sugar with honey, maple syrup, or any other sweetener of your choice.
Alterations for Dietary Restrictions:
- Dairy-Free: Use coconut milk or almond milk instead of heavy cream and whole milk. Also, ensure that the gelatin you are using is not derived from animal sources, or use agar-agar.
- Vegan: Use a plant-based milk, and instead of gelatin, use agar-agar. If using a topping, use a vegan-friendly sweetener like maple syrup instead of honey.
- Low-Sugar: Reduce the amount of sugar or use a sugar substitute like stevia.
The Earl Grey Panna Cotta is a sophisticated and elegant dessert that combines the delicate flavors of Earl Grey tea with the creamy texture of panna cotta. Whether you’re serving it at a dinner party or enjoying it as a luxurious treat for yourself, this dessert is sure to impress.
The optional toppings of lemon curd or honey add an additional layer of flavor that complements the Earl Grey perfectly. Enjoy this delightful dessert and don’t hesitate to experiment with different teas and toppings to make it your own. Bon appétit!