It is not surprising that panna cotta is such a popular dessert in Italy. It is easy to make for a few people as it is for a crowd and it lends itself to endless variations of flavor and presentation.
The melon panna cotta is my own creation, made by substituting the milk in the classic recipe with pureed fruit. You can use other seasonal fruit like strawberries, peaches or mangos with quite splendid results.
- g 150 (5 oz) cleaned cubed cantaloupe melon
- 2 sheets gelatin
- 70 gr. ( ¼ cup) sugar
- 150 ml ( 2/3 cup) whipping cream
- ½ teasp vanilla extract
- 1 slice of melon
- juice of 1/4 lemon
- 1 scant tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon limoncello
For the garnish, mix lemon juice, sugar and limoncello in a bowl. Scoop out the flesh of 1/4 of a melon with a melon baller and transfer the melon balls in the limoncello mixture. Refrigerate for at least one hour or until ready to serve.
Freeze 4 serving cups or ramekins. The panna cotta mixture will set faster if the serving cups are very cold.
For the panna cotta, soften the gelatin in cold water for at least 15 min. Meanwhile, blend the diced melon and sugar until smooth and transfer it to a pan. Bring the mixture to almost boiling point and then remove from the heat. Remove the gelatin from the cold water and squeeze the sheets lightly with your hand to get rid of excess moisture. Add the gelatin to the melon mixture, whisk it in well and then add the vanilla and the cream. After mixing thoroughly, allow the mixture to cool completely. Pour the mixture into the frozen serving cups or ramekins and place them in the refrigerator (not in the freezer) for 2- 3 hours.
Serve the melon mousse topped prettily with the marinated melon balls and fresh edible flowers or herbs, like mint or verbena, to decorate.
As explained for the classic panna cotta, if using powder gelatin, do not soften it in water but use a small amount of cream or milk instead. Once softened, add both the cream and the gelatin to the warm melon mixture.