I’ve just spent a fantastic afternoon sitting in one of our city’s pretty parks, switching between bookworming and watching a show no TV or Big Screen could have competed with. By some lucky coincidence, I’d picked a spot near a herb garden for today’s outdoor-reading session, and the bees busying themselves with the overflowing array of fragrant blossoms did a spectacular job at distracting me from the masterful deductions of Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
After watching a particularly fat bumblebee – no offense to any bumblebees reading this – wobble around a lavender bush for quite some time, the whole scenery started to sink in and gave me an idea: What’s a better way to capture this lovely day in the park, than to translate it into something delicious, always capable of refreshing my memory of it at a whim? Well, the colors and scents of the herb garden in full swing made picking the perfect morsel for the job an exceptionally easy task~! A quick twist of one of my favorite desserts and 3 hours of fridge-time later, hubby and I were digging into this with relish~
The Lavender-Buttermilk Panna Cotta
These amounts will net you 2-4 servings – I usually go with 150ml ramekins as serving dishes for any sort of Panna Cotta. Whichever serving size you go with, make sure to set 1-2 Tbsp of the mixture aside, out of snooping eyes’ reach, for a secret midnight treat~!
2 Leaves of Gelatine – or the vegetarian equivalent of your choice measured accordingly
150ml Light Whipping Cream – since the buttermilk is the star of the dairy-related flavor-show, I would advise against using full-fat cream, even if you’re not in the calory-counting business.
3 Tbsp Caster Sugar
½ Tsp Lavender Blossoms – well-sorted spice shops have these in stock~
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1) Pop the gelatine leaves into a bowl of cold water to soak for about 5 mins.
2) Place both the sugar and the lavender blossoms in a pestle & mortar and grind them until the blossoms have turned into little purple specs dotting the white of the sugar.
3) Pour the cream into a small pot set onto medium heat and stir in the lavender-sugar blend.
4) Keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved completely.
5) Bring the mixture up to a low simmer and, before it’s getting any bubbly ideas, take the pot off the heat as soon as it gets there.
6) Set it aside for 5 mins, to give the aroma of the lavender a chance to bloom and infuse the cream.
7) Squeeze the water out of the gelatine and whisk the now wobbly leaves into the warm, scented cream until they’ve dissolved completely.
8) Add the vanilla extract along with the buttermilk and stir the lot until everything is well blended – the purple lavender dots are an excellent indicator as to when that particular goal is reached~
9) Pour the mixture into 4 serving dishes, bowls or mini glass jam jars – this is a wonderful to-go dessert, by the way~!
10) Pop them into the fridge and chill them for about 2-3 hours until the mixture has set.
The Honeyed Figs
10 Small or 6 large, ripe Figs, quartered
1 Fig, quartered – for decorative touch-ups if you’re going with the saucy option~
1 Tsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Honey
3 Tbsp Red Port
A couple of Lemon Balm Leaves to decorate the servings with
This one’s as easy as it gets, as far as compotey fruit sauces go~!
1) Simply pour the Port into a small pot and get it up to a gentle simmer on medium heat.
2) Stir in the sugar and honey and stir until both have dissolved.
3) Give the Port 2-3 mins of bubble-time to poof out the alcohol.
4) Pop in the figs and leave the lot to simmer away for about 5-10 mins – 5 mins if you’re planning on keeping the figs in their current, solid’ish state and 10 mins if you’d prefer to whizz them up into a fruity sauce.
5) Set the figs – or fig sauce – aside to cool off.
6) Top off your Panna Cotta with the liquids and arrange the fig quarters, simmered or fresh, on top.
7) And that’s it, time to serve~!
Honey, lavender, white, purple, sweet and tangy… I hope I was able to translate this beautiful spring day into a dessert for you guys~!