Fearless Lavender-Fig Panna Cotta

By • June 26, 2011 • 32 Comments

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Author Notes: This was dessert on a cooking class menu the other night. At the end of classes, I like to go around ask people what they now know that they didn't before. A couple of people mentioned that they were no longer afraid of using gelatin, and another said that she'd never really known how to use figs. Usually it's the lavender in something that people find unusual. Whatever, getting people past fears and opening their palates to a new flavor is just the best!

For those of you "afraid" of lavender, go be afraid of tornadoes, earthquakes, global warming. The relatively small amount of sweetening via honey lets the herbal notes of the lavender and rich fruitiness of the figs shine. Between the lavender and figs, also, the color is lovely. And the sour cream renders a very gentle texture.
boulangere

Serves 4

  • 2 ounces cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces honey
  • Pinch of sea or kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried organic lavender buds
  • 4 ounces sour cream
  • 6 dried figs, stems removed, sliced thin OR 2 fresh figs stemmed and sliced
  1. In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the cream, honey, salt, and lavender blossoms to a scald. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes for the lavender to infuse the cream.
  2. If using dried figs, place slices in a bowl and cover with very hot tap water. Set a plate over the bowl to keep the heat in. Let figs steep for 15 minutes to fully soften.
  3. While lavender and figs are steeping, measure the cold water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface to let it bloom and set aside.
  4. When the lavender's 15 minutes are up, pour cream through a sieve into a mixing bowl. Discard lavender. Add gelatin whisk until completely dissolved. Dip the tips of your thumb and index finger into the cream and rub them together. If you feel any grittiness, return briefly to heat (DON'T let it boil!) while whisking. When gelatin is fully dissolved, the cream mixture should feel perfectly smooth.
  5. Measure sour cream into the bowl of a food processor or a mini-chop. Strain figs and add them as well. Purée until figs are as incorporated as possible - they won't purée completely, and that's fine. Add sour cream and figs to the cream mixture and whisk to blend.
  6. Divide panna cotta among 4 ramekins of any shape. You can also use shallow coffee cups, even wine glasses. Be aware that the deeper the container, the longer the panna cotta will take to set up. Generally, it should be ready to serve in about 3 hours. It can certainly be prepared a day in advance.
  7. Serve garnished with a dollop of whipped cream and a few of whatever berries are in season.
Jump to Comments (32)

Tags: cream, Figs, gelatin, lavender, panna cotta

Comments (32) Questions (0)

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Its back Yay!!!

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

The resident geniuses at food52 are amazing.

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I am making this for dessert for a friend coming over for dinner on Saturday. Good that we have resident genius here!!

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about 3 years ago TheGirlyGirlCooks

This dessert was so delicious! I love how it complimented the sparkling white wine you served it with!

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I'm so glad you liked it, thank you.

Lorigoldsby

about 3 years ago lorigoldsby

Great combo...love lavender and love figs. Fig gelato is my favorite treat when we get to Italy, but I will try this combo at home!

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Fig gelato sounds incredible! Thanks for the idea.

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

I would never have thought to combine figs with lavender but I'll bet it's a lovely combo. And sour cream...yum!

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

As I mentioned a few comments ago, even I was surprised at the first taste of it. And the sour cream is just enough to take the edge off the touch of rubberiness that panna cotta can have.

Ozoz_profile

about 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Oh thanks Boulangere,m I'll go be afraid of other things..........you've certainly 'tamed' lavender (and figs) for me! Gelatin I can cope with...anyday!

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Great to hear!

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh that sounds so good, love panna cotta, I am going to get over the aversion to lavender, picked some buds am drying them in the sun. I will try it! I can't wait to see the photo's

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

You can certainly use fresh if you have them. I agree - lavender's a flavor to use judiciously. Too much and and whatever you're making tastes like soap. The teaspoon here is just enough that it give a hint of herbalness, not readily identifiable as lavender. And in combination with the figs, oh my, I could eat a barrel of it.

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Wait a minute! If you can eat True Blood-themed food, why be afraid of a little bit of lavender!

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I love figs and I imagine you are right the lavender when used sparingly would give a lovely herbal quality. What do you think of agar agar instead of gelatin? I think this is brilliant, panna cotta is wonderful but can be a little bland the addition of the figs and lavender would really add a whole new dimension. I think I'll use fresh figs. Its ok to use the fresh buds i don't have to continue drying the lavender thats good.

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Agar agar, good question. I haven't used it since I was an undergraduate, which was a very long time ago and long before it came to have culinary applications. If you have a source and know how to use it, feel free. Fresh figs - great! We typically don't get them here until late summer. Fresh lavender, wonderful. We've had such a cold, wet, wet, wet, did I mention wet, spring and early summer that mine will be lucky to bloom before the first frost. Which the way we're going, could be next week for all I know.

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

LOL, you got me there. Deep seeded fear of soap in the mouth from years of having my mouth washed out with soap.

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Always glad to get someone past a food fear.

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I don't have a source for agar never used before, noticed hardlikearmour used in her panna cotta and it intrigued me, just wanted to get your take on it. I have no particular problem with gelatin so will use that. Hope to make it this week. Will let you know how it turns out.

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

She's a veterinarian, so likely has a medical supply source.

Gator_cake

about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Just noticed this. I get agar agar powder at the Asian market. You can get the flakes at Whole Foods or similar stores, but it's much more expensive. If you get the flakes I'd recommend grinding them into a powder as they take a long, long time to dissolve otherwise, and you really don't want undissolved globs of agar agar in your finished product.

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thanks HLA, what is agar agar, is it flavorless like gelatin? I will try to find it I can go to whole food and look for it. Good to know that the flakes are hard to dissolve. Will get powdered if I can. There are no local asian markets here in my neighborhood, I could go to china town.

Gator_cake

about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

It comes from some type of seaweed, and is flavorless. I like it's texture, and the fact it holds up well at a wider range of temperature for panna cotta.

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks! Even I was a little surprised by how good the combination of the figs and lavender was.

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I'm on a lavender "mission" these days.

Gator_cake

about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

LOL!

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I left my camera at work, so I'll get photos posted tomorrow.

Gator_cake

about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I ? lavender, figs, and panna cotta! Yum!

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about 3 years ago Sagegreen

Me, too!

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I hope the photos will capture what a lovely color it has.

Dsc_0675-x2a

about 3 years ago Sagegreen

Can't wait; I painted my bedroom a tanzanite color...love the purple and blues.

Dscn2212

about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Well, don't get your hopes too high. Tanzanite is a stunning color, while this is merely, well, lovely.