I don't drink tea often, but I always have a stash in my cupboard in case of medical emergencies: chamomile for headaches, throat coat for flu season, darjeeling to accompany an occasional afternoon yen for chocolate cake (that's medicinal, right?!). I'm pretty impatient, and the whole rigmarole necessary to achieve a proper cuppa' kind of drives me up the wall (there's no pride for me in admitting it; I wish I was serene and gracious enough to appreciate this lovely ritual, but what can I say).
Cooking with tea is something else, and I have no misgivings when steeping tea leaves in cream for custards or infusing a ganache with Earl Grey or Bengal Spice. Happily, I've inhaled poundcakes and madeleines flavored with something floral and caffeinated. And I'll always make room for this panna cotta, smoky, shimmering, and luscious, lightly sweetened and very refreshing.
Green Tea Panna Cotta adapted from Bon Appetit
This panna cotta is made with matcha, a powdered Japanese tea that comes from slow-grown, bright green leaves. High in amino acids with a flavor that's sweet and deep, it can be found in many health food stores and well-stocked supermarkets.
1 tsp powdered gelatin
1 tbl cold water
3 tbl sugar
1/2 c milk
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 tsp matcha
In a small bowl, soften gelatin in cold water. Set aside.
Heat sugar with the milk, cream, and salt stirring, until sugar dissolves. Whisk in the softened gelatin and vanilla extract.
In another bowl, make a slurry by gradually whisking 2 tbl of warm milk mixture into the matcha. Whisk in the rest of the milk mixture, strain, and divide into serving bowls or ramekins. Refrigerate for at least two hours but no more than a day before serving.
For a fancy, restaurant-style presentation, run a paring knife along the sides of each ramekin, "burp" the side of the panna cotta with your forefinger, and, pulling gently, ease it onto the plate....or dip the ramekin in a bowl of hot water for several seconds, shake gently, and invert onto plate. Serve with candied kumquats, mandarin orange segments, or a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
yields four servings