Recently I was lucky enough to have lunch with the wonderful Louise Legard, a dear friend and one of the most fabulous managers of my cookery courses over the past 23 years.
As so often happens when you’ve known someone for so long you are quick to take a trip down memory lane – Louise did that for me instantly by producing the perfect panna cotta. It was Carla’s Tomasi’s recipe – the recipe we have both adored since we first ate it in Tuscany at Fattoria Montelucci. It then followed us to all the beautiful Italian regions in which we ran courses: Umbria, Sicily, the Veneto – and if it could have followed us to France, Spain and Thailand we would have taken it!
Carla used to make it in the classes with our guests sharing her secret tips for the perfect panna cotta and always, always making extra wobbly, creamy, vanilla-infused puddings to keep Louise and I going throughout the week. Before breakfast we would make our way to the fridge and take one just as the morning table on the terrace was being loaded up with fresh breads, pastries, home-made jams, local cheeses and salumi for our guests. We would secretly eat our treasure in the quiet of the early morning overlooking the vineyards and olive groves – such a wonderful way to start a busy day of food, wine, and the good things in life.
Carla now accuses me of having an ‘affair’ with panna cotta – how could you not when the memories it brings back are so wonderful.
Without doubt the easiest pudding to prepare. It pleases everybody and is a good all-rounder for every season. Delicious in spring and summer with berries and during the autumn and winter with caramelised pears or apples. It looks quite stunning if resting on a pool of sauce, the likes of caramel, coffee, fruit coulis or spiced saffron cream. A little “crunch” is also welcome, and I usually serve it with a couple of thin, crisp biscuits.
The consistency and thickness of leaf gelatine varies so you will have to experiment a little.
Bear in mind that with gelatine less is more, and when turned out of the mould they have to be very wobbly indeed.
Copyright Carla Tomasi
Tempted by Carla’s perfect panna cotta recipe? For another delicious, authentic Italian dessert, check out our panettone recipe.