Panna Cotta with Peaches and Red Wine Reduction

Panna Cotta with Fresh Peaches and Red Wine Reduction

Panna cotta means “cooked cream”. Well, that’s true–it’s cream and it’s cooked; but besides that, it is the creamiest, most seductively light tasting dessert in the Tuscan repertoire. It is also perhaps the most common. Chef Francesco Costagli created this uncommon version with a red wine reduction sauce and a fresh peach topping that renders up an easy, cool and elegant dessert with four layers of flavors and textures. It is a delight to the eyes and the taste buds. Make it the day before, or at least 6 hours ahead to allow the dessert to gel before serving.

Ingredients for 8 servings

For the panna cotta:

1 ¼ cups whole milk

2 ½ cups whipping cream*

2 packets of powdered gelatin (½ ounce)

6 tablespoons sugar

For the fruit and amaretto topping:

1-3/4 cup fresh peaches or nectarines

½ cup sugar

16 amaretto cookies, half of them crumbled; 8 whole.

For the red wine reduction sauce:

1 bottle (750 ml) good quality Chianti Classico or other dry, medium bodied red wine

1 cup white sugar

*Note: You can change the proportions of cream and milk if you want a lighter dessert.

Instructions:

First, make the red wine reduction sauce:

Pour a bottle of good quality Chianti Classico wine and a cup of white granulated sugar into a nonreactive pan over high heat, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium high, or so the liquid continues to bubble, and let it continue boiling until reduced to half. Turn off the heat and let cool.

Next, make the panna cotta:

Place the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to soften the gelatin. Pour milk mixture into a heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves but the milk does not boil, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and sugar. Stir 5 to 7 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.

Then assemble the parfaits:

Choose a clear parfait dishes or wine glasses or even attractive glass or crystal tumblers that allow to see the layers of this pretty dessert.  There should be one dish per serving.

Pour approximately 3 tablespoons of the red wine reduction sauce into the bottom of each parfait or wine glass. Gently spoon equal amounts of the panna cotta mixture over the top of the red wine reduction sauce in each dish, being careful to keep the two layers separate.

Cool slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or overnight. This dessert keeps in the refrigerator for several days.

Prepare the fruit topping and finish the presentation:

At least 30 minutes before serving, peel and cut the peaches or nectarines into small cubes and mix with the sugar. Wait at least 20 minutes for the sugar to bring out the flavor of the fruit. Just before serving, spoon the fruit over the top of each panna cotta, then sprinkle with crumbled amaretto cookies and one whole amaretto over the top.