Fourth of July

Wild Berry Basil Panna Cotta

July  8, 2010
Author Notes

When I lived in Juneau, Alaska, a friend and I spent one beautiful summer day sea kayaking out to a little island, to pick blueberries and salmon berries. We made a coconut cloud berry crisp, wild berry muscat granita, and this beautiful panna cotta, infused with the surpise of basil's perfume. I originally published the recipe in a food column I used to write for the Juneau Empire, called Local Flavor. If using store bought berries, I reccommend using either strawberries, or a combination of blueberries and raspberries. - Food-G —Food-G

Test Kitchen Notes

Barely sweetened with sugar and infused with a mere whisper of basil, we love the confidence of this panna cotta -- when you're good, there's no need to shout about it! But Food-G has a few more tricks up his/her (we're not sure!) sleeve -- deftly employing sour cream for tang and whipped cream to lift the pudding. We used a tart mix of blackberries, raspberries, black currants and gooseberries -- you should buy the best berries you can find and add sugar to taste. - A&M —The Editors

  • Serves 6 to 8
  • Wild Berry Basil Panna Cotta
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 large basil leaves, torn into large pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Versatile Berry Puree (recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Versatile Berry Puree
  • 1 cup fresh berries, chef's choice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (plus more to taste)
In This Recipe
  1. Wild Berry Basil Panna Cotta
  2. In a small bowl, use a fork to mix milk and gelatin, and set aside. In a small sauce pan combine 1? cups heavy cream, vanilla, basil leaves, and salt. Heat mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally until liquid is steaming, about 7 minutes. Add gelatin mixture, and stir. Cook until gelatin is dissolved and mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes. Stir in berry puree and sugar (adding more to taste -- keeping in mind you'll be adding sour cream and whipped cream later) and remove from heat. Cool the mixture in fridge or ice bath, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
  3. Place remaining ? cup heavy cream in a stainless steel mixing bowl and mix on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  4. Remove basil leaves from berry mixture and discard. Add sour cream and stir until smooth. Add whipped cream and fold until smooth. Pour into serving dish(es) of choice, cover, and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Optional: Garnish with dollops of sour cream, a few fresh berries, and a small basil leaf.
  1. Versatile Berry Puree
  2. Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mash berries with a potato masher and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and let bubble lightly for 3 minutes. Taste and adjust sweetness while cooking, aiming for a natural sweetened berry flavor versus sticky sweet pancake syrup.
  3. Pour the mixture through a wire mesh strainer set over a mixing bowl. Work the berries through the strainer using the back of a soup spoon or a rubber spatula, until as much liquid as possible has been extracted from the pulp (use patience here for a greater yield). Discard pulp. Cover and refrigerate puree for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to a month.

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