When I think about creating desserts to serve to friends and family, it not only has to taste great but has to look the part as well. There’s nothing quite so satisfying for me as hearing my guests’ “oohh and aahh” over something I’ve created when it arrives at the table and then the satisfying silence as my sweet finish is devoured and enjoyed. For many of my friends the highlight of a great meal is the bit at the end and so when planning a new recipe or dessert it has to live up to expectations. For me, I tend to find a lot of desserts way too heavy and sweet following a couple of courses and so the challenge is to create a dish that has some lightness to it without compromising on all those flavours and textures that make great desserts. I often use yoghurt in desserts in place of some or all of the cream and, for a recent dinner party, decided to use it in a pannacotta recipe I have that usually uses only heavy cream as it’s base.
The next step in designing this dessert was deciding on which flavour to go with. I love using fresh seasonal fruit in cooking and baking and these days you can pretty much find any flavour of yoghurt to match. You only have to peruse the supermarket chilled section to see we are spoilt for choice when looking at yoghurts, with so many great producers and innovative and creative flavours available these days. I love figs and so when I found a yoghurt that combined roasted fig and black plum, I had my inspiration for the flavour base for my pannacotta. My usual “go to” pannacotta recipe was about to get a fruity makeover and I also thought that a bit more texture was needed to make it complete and bring a bit of “wow” to the dessert.
I’m never one to take the easy road when it comes to cooking or baking and somehow always feel the need to go a bit over and beyond with a recipe. This dessert was no exception. Yes the creamy texture of the pannacotta combined with some fresh fruit was, I’m sure, going to be great but not amazing enough for my liking. I felt that the recipe could use a bit of crunch and so decided on adding not one but two elements to the final dish. I opted for a crunchy biscuit base as well as a nutty praline to add to the creamy star of the show.
Not content with finishing there, I created a spicy cardamom infused honey syrup to drizzle over the top, using honey from my good friend Randall’s own hives that he keeps in suburban Sydney. I love getting my hands on great quality fresh produce from small producers as, not only do you notice the difference in terms of the flavour of the final product, but you also get that sense of satisfaction knowing you have supported the little guy.
Constructing the final product to bring to the table can largely be done ahead of time for a dinner party if you like or alternatively if you have all of the elements ready to go it doesn’t take long to do right before serving. Just make sure your biscuit bases are cut to size, your praline is crushed, the fruit is sliced and the syrup a little warm so that it drizzles nicely. If you don’t have the time of inclination you can leave out the biscuit and praline elements and still have a dessert that will have your guests singing your praises and wanting more. Hope you enjoy this recipe and it’s the sweet finish you were looking for.
You can view the recipe here.