(Cat "Speedy Gonzales" with the knife, prepping the ginger)
For Panna Cotta:
1 quart heavy cream (or 2 c. heavy cream + 2 c. half and half, for a less rich dessert)
1/2 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger, warmed in skillet
2 packets of powdered gelatin (4 1/2 tsp), sprinkled over 6 Tbsp. cold water (let rest 5 minutes)
16 juice glasses, shot glasses, or small glasses of some sort
Heat cream and sugar in a heavy saucepan (do not boil). When steaming, remove from heat and add the warmed ginger (must be warmed, otherwise it interferes with the gelatin). Whisk in the gelatin. Divide evenly between 16 glasses (we tilted our glasses and set them in egg cartons, so the panna cotta would set diagonally). Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.
("Fast Hands" Cat scraping ginger skillet into the steaming panna cotta)
(Oh my goodness. Whisking the gelatin into the steamed milk - again, Cat McSpeederston at work)
(just a bit of small-blender action with the can of mandarin oranges)
For Mandarin Mousse:
2 c. heavy whipping cream
reserved Mandarin Orange puree
Beat whipping cream at high speed in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, until frothy. Add 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Fold in the reserved Mandarin Orange puree until well incorporated.
mandarin orange segments and chocolate shavings to garnish
Layer in a small glass in this order:
Panna Cotta (chill for 2 hours or until set before layering the rest on top)
Mandarin Orange Sauce
orange segment and chocolate shavings to garnish
Asian Fusion Panna Cotta East Meets West Ginger Orange Tiger Celebration is what happened when my best childhood friend Cat came to visit during the Chinese New Year weekend. We took it upon ourselves to prepare a dessert worthy of such a momentous holiday. We nixed our first idea of fortune cookies when we saw that speed, dexterity, and skill were required to get the cookies off the pan, fortune inserted, and folded in the mere 10 seconds before they cooled. We're good, but not that good.
So we settled on panna cotta. Panna cotta is an Italian dessert that means "milk pudding," and it turned out to be perfect and light. The ginger and mandarin flavors were little nods to Chinese cuisine. We did orange sauce for the Year of the Tiger, and the chocolate shavings on top just because we needed chocolate in there. The dessert seems complicated, but it's not. It's just one of those that uses every spatula and prep bowl you have.
One more thing about Asian Fusion Panna Cotta East Meets West Ginger Orange Tiger Celebration: my friend Cat is awesome. We are each other's oldest friends. We met at 6 months of age in North Carolina, grew up across the street from each other in West Africa, roomed together for one year of boarding school (in West Africa, again), saw each other a few times in college in Georgia, North Carolina, or South Carolina, and met up last summer in Spain. Her visit this weekend marked the last time I'll see her on this side of the ocean for a while (she's moving to Central Europe on Thursday). That's OK though - we've stuck with each other this long. No chance that the Czech Republic is going to split us.