If you are looking for a fancy dessert to impress your guests, look no further. Rich, smooth dark chocolate panna cotta paired with blackberry coulis, fresh blackberries, hazelnut praline and toasted meringue.
This delicious dark chocolate panna cotta is the perfect finish to a special dinner. I decided to pair it with some tart blackberries from my mother in law’s garden. The mix of blackberry coulis and fresh blackberries provide a beautiful balance to the rich, creamy chocolate. Add to that a crisp crunch from the hazelnut praline and some soft, toasted marshmallow-y meringue and you have a truly decadent dessert, sure to impress.
You can swap the blackberries for raspberries if blackberries are unavailable. If you are time poor, some of the elements can be made ahead of time. The praline can be made the night before and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The coulis can be made 2-3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
Panna cotta can be a tricky dessert to perfect. It all comes down to the jiggle. Too much gelatine and the panna cotta will be too firm, to little and it won’t set. This recipe gives you a lovely, soft dessert with a perfect wobble.
Removing the panna cotta from the mould can also be difficult. To help with this, I use silicone dariole moulds rather than metal. You can work the panna cotta out onto the plate a lot easier this way.
- FOR THE PANNA COTTA
- 2 1/4 tsp powdered gelatine
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbs caster sugar
- 200g good quality dark chocolate (70% or higher)
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- FOR THE BLACKBERRY COULIS
- 200g blackberries
- 30g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 40ml water
- FOR THE HAZELNUT PRALINE
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1 tbs water
- 60g hazelnuts
- FOR THE MERINGUE
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- TO DECORATE
- fresh blackberries, extra
- double cream
For the panna cotta;
Lightly grease 6 x 120ml dariole moulds with oil spray. Place the moulds onto a flat tray.
In a cup, mix the boiling water with the powdered gelatine and stir until combined and the gelatine dissolves.
Combine the cream and milk in a saucepan with the sugar and vanilla. Over low-medium heat, bring the cream mixture to a high heat, without boiling. Stir through the gelatine and remove from the heat.
Cover and set aside for two minutes.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl. I melt my chocolate in the microwave- as long as you do it in bursts and stir in between, it turns out lovely and smooth. Alternatively, you can melt it by stirring in a bowl over a pot of lightly simmering water.
Using a sieve, pour the hot cream over the top of the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth.
Transfer the mixture into a jug and pour carefully into the greased moulds. Transfer the tray into the fridge and allow to set for at least 3-4 hours.
For the blackberry coulis;
Add all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Boil until soft and then remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Whiz the berries in a blender until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve to remove seeds and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. The coulis can also be frozen and defrosted when required.
For the hazelnut praline;
Add the hazelnuts to a frying pan and toast over medium heat, stirring, until browned. Remove the hazelnuts from the pan and transfer to a tray lined with baking paper.
Add the sugar and water to the frying pan over medium heat. The sugar will start to melt and brown around the edges. Do not stir, but swirl the pan and brush the sugar from the sides to prevent burning. Once all of the sugar has melted and turned golden brown, pour over the hazelnuts.
Once the sugar has cooled completely, break it into chunks and add to a food processor. Blitz the praline into smaller, finer pieces, but don’t make it too fine.
For the meringue;
Boil the sugar, cream of tartar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 4 minutes, brushing the sides of the pan to prevent burning.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt on high speed until soft peaks form. Turn the mixer to medium speed and while beating, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Continue beating until the egg whites are firm and glossy (around 5 minutes).
Once the panna cottas are set, gently roll the dariole moulds in your hands and carefully place the panna cotta onto individual serving plates.
Place spoonfuls of the hazelnut praline crumbs onto the plate and drops of the coulis. Scatter fresh blackberries and pipe or dallop spoonfuls of meringue over the plate. Using a kitchen blowtorch, lightly brown the meringue (if you don’t have a torch, you can lightly brown on a tray under the grill before transferring to the plate). Serve immediately.