Not very seasonal I know, but I really need to share this with you. I watched the BBC’s final of MasterChef last night – not usually my sort of thing, but a friend was over and they had been following it and asked if we could watch. Beautiful, artistic, creative all of those things. Anyway, one of the finalists created a pudding that had a Acorn Panna Cotta as part of a ‘trio of desserts’.
Acorns, say most of the books, are edible, but its so ‘faffy’ to get rid of the tannins it usually not worth it, but the judge (you know the enthusiastic, bald one) went mad for the wood-y flavour of the acorns.
So this morning I checked the website to see if there was a receipe – and indeed there is http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/acorn_panna_cotta_mocha_93457 is the link, but just in case it disappears from the web before we are picking acorns in the autum I have copied the text below. A bit more complicated than my usual suggestions and one that I (obviously) haven’t road tested.
- For the acorn panna cotta
- 30g/1oz shelled acorns (or hazelnuts)
- 300ml/10fl oz double cream
- 100ml/3½oz full-fat milk
- 50g/2¾oz caster sugar
- 2½ gelatine leaves
- Acorns need to be soaked several times to remove the tannins, which are very bitter and mildly toxic. Place the acorns into a large pan, and cover them with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for about 15 minutes. The water will turn brown as the tannic acid is extracted from the kernels. Drain the acorns and put them back in the pan with fresh water. Re-boil the acorns, throwing out the brown water several times until the water is clear. The boiling process takes about two or three hours, though the time varies with the amount of tannic acid in the acorns. Then pre-heat the oven to 90C/200F. Place the acorns on a baking tray and roast them for an hour to dry them out. The acorns are now ready to use.
- For the acorn panna cotta, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
- Place the acorns, or hazelnuts if using instead, on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes until they are a deep brown colour.
- Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes, before grinding coarsely in a coffee grinder.
- Transfer the ground acorns to a saucepan, and add the cream, milk and sugar. Bring the mixture to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves for a few minutes in cold water until soft.
- Prepare the panna cotta moulds by lightly greasing either a silicon mould with small rectangular pockets (a financière mould), or four dariole moulds.
- Return the cooled acorn infusion to the heat, and bring up to the boil. Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine and whisk into the pan. Once the gelatine has dissolved, strain the mixture into a jug.
- Pour the panna cotta into the prepared moulds and transfer to the fridge to set.