A while ago, in one of the cooking classes I take, Chef Mario Campollo taught us to make a Lychee Mousse. The flavor was a wonderful balance between sweet and tangy, and it occured to me to try incorporating lychee puree into a basic panna cotta recipe. I used David Lebovitz’s recipe and messed it around so I could include blended lychees into it. The outcome? ….success!
I used rambutan fruit for decoration. The taste is very similar to lychess (for a while I thought they were one and the same), but they do the job for an elegant presentation, don’t you think? If these fruits are out of season, you can just as well use any sort of berry to decorate.
See the little black dots in my panna cotta? I used Williams-Sonoma ground Tahitian vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract. If you can get the real thing, I do recommend it. Of course, using vanilla extract is fine too.
I hope you try this recipe, give yourself a little treat…. and have some wine with it while you’re at it.
Lychee Panna Cotta
Recipe by: David Lebovitz
Yields 4 servings
2 cups heavy cream
1 can lychees in syrup
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon white vanilla extract
¼ cup lychee syrup
6 tablespoons lychee syrup
2 packs of unflavored gelatin
Rambutan fruit for garnish (if they are out of season, use berries)
- Drain the lychees, but reserve the syrup. You’ll use some of it later on. Place the drained lychees in the blender and puree until smooth. Pass it through a strainer to get the smoothest texture possible. Set aside.
- Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, lychee puree, and 1/4 cup lychee syrup.
- Lightly oil eight custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil.
- Sprinkle the gelatin over 6 tablespoons lychee syrup in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
- Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
- Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm, which will take at least two hours.
- Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and garnish as desired.
- Berry sauce: Cook your choice of berries with sugar and a bit of water and blend until smooth.
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