This unusual panna cotta recipe has been in my repertoire for almost 20 years. Unlike most panna cotta, which can be heavy and dense with gelatin, this one is airy and light, and made all the more so by the whipped egg whites. It’s not stiff enough to unmold, but just set it in some pretty ramekins or small jars and you won’t need to.
Dried rose petals have a deep and evocative aroma. Traditionally used in Iranian cooking, they are used here to flavor the cream for this light, airy panna cotta, as well as added as a garnish at the end. The shavings of bitter chocolate, crunchy pistachio, and ethereal rose petals make this a perfect, romantic end to a Valentine's Day feast. —Sara Jenkins
tablespoons dried edible rose petals, divided
large egg whites
Chopped toasted pistachios, optional
Shaved bittersweet chocolate, optional
Combine 1/4 cup of the cream with gelatin and allow the gelatin to soften.
Combine the remaining heavy cream, sugar, split vanilla bean, and two tablespoons of the rose petals in a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat. Bring this mixture to a simmer, and cook, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Once the sugar has dissolved, strain the simmering cream into a bowl set inside a bowl of ice.
Add the gelatin-cream mixture to the bowl.
Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and add to the cream. Stir this mixture over the ice to bring it down to room temperature.
Separately, beat the egg whites into stiff peaks, then gently fold this into the cream until well amalgamated.
Stirring constantly, ladle the mixture into individual ramekins and chill until set, about 3 hours or overnight.
Before serving, garnish the tops of the panna cottas with the reserved tablespoons of rose petals and the chopped toasted pistachios and shaved bittersweet chocolate (if using).