If you read this blog regularly or follow me on Twitter or really know anything about me, you know that I loooove edible flowers. That said, I went NUTS when I started seeing people using a flower I’d never knowingly had before.
Hibiscus is much more common than you’d think in everyday food – it’s apparently the main component of red zinger tea, and is used commonly in other berry-flavored tea. With good reason – hibiscus’s flavor is a wonderfully tart cran-raspberry-like flavor.
I got my hands on a pound of dried hibiscus petals and, since hibiscus is most commonly used like tea, I decided to try a panna cotta with them. There was, however, a factor I didn’t consider.
Hibiscus is naturally really high in pectin, and I guess the gelatin and fat in the cream was lighter than the pectin-y hibiscus, so I ended up with two layers. When inverted onto a plate, the top is a clear, tangy jelly, while the base is very rich and creamy.
If I had some hibiscus in syrup I’d add a flower to each panna cotta and drizzle some syrup, or, if I had candied hibiscus, chop some up and sprinkle it over each one. But, all I could afford was the bag o’ dried bits, so…yeah.
Hibiscus Panna Cotta
- 1 cup cream
- 2 1/2 tsp gelatin
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp dried hibiscus flowers
- Zest from 1 lemon
Pour the cream into a medium saucepan and sprinkle evenly with gelatin. Let sit 5 minutes. Place over low heat, stirring gently until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Add the milk, sugar, hibiscus and zest. Simmer over medium heat until the cream foams slightly (about 5 minutes), then remove from heat, cover and allow to steep 15-20 minutes. Strain and pour into mold(s) or ramekins. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until set but still jiggly. To unmold, dip the mold in hot water and flip onto a plate. If it’s stubborn (or your mold has a lip like my ramekins) you can run a sharp knife around the inside of the mold. Allow panna cotta to slide out of the mold onto the plate.
This is a very dramatic and tasty panna cotta. It looks cute flipped on a plate, or you could serve it straight out of the ramekins, with the bottom layer as a surprise. OR make it in fancy glasses, so you get an elegant presentation and you can see the layers.