Friday, September 25, 2009

Panna Cotta and Strawberry Cake





Time goes by really fast, I thought it was the beginning of summer, but it ends already. I thought it wasn't too long ago that I started become curious about baking world, but now I can make things that I didn't even dream about. It was only yesterday that my little niece was born, and now she has a little baby brother already! Yes, I am officially an aunt of 12 now :). Sometimes these changes scared me as it happens so fast, but it's also exciting to see and experience what God has blessed you with. Surely enough, every tiny bit of blessing and moment deserve a cake!

I'm very thankful for little things that I got, and this strawberry season is one of them.
I buy a huge box of strawberries at farmers market almost every week, or maybe once every two weeks. One box has about 6 over-flowing ripe and sweet strawberries. So every week, I need to come up with some strawberry dessert ideas before these beauties turn bad. But time doesn't always follow the plan, it's the other way around. So I'm often left with a box full of strawberries with a sign of aging and I knew that I need to use them fast.



Ever since I saw Aran's post about her strawberry dessert she posted a while back, I always wanted to make it. She may not know me, but she has been a really big inspiration for me.
She made hers into individual jars, and I absolutely love dessert in individual glasses like that. You can really see the layers and you don't need to put as much gelatin as you would if you make it into a cake form because the glass will hold it well. Unfortunately, I don't have pretty clear glasses like that (it's on my wish-list though :P), so I decided to make it into a big cake form with sponge cake as a base.

I doubled the recipe for each layer to make it into one 7.5" round cake maybe (I trim the edges of an 8" cake). I made panna cotta before, but I've never made a yogurt panna cotta and I was so excited to try it. I know that I love the tartness of fromage blanc, so I was pretty confident that I will like the tartness of the yogurt as much. Making the vanilla bean panna cotta was a breeze, then I had to let it set in the freezer so that it would set up fast, before it seeps out through the cake ring. I made the strawberry mousse, and just refrigerate it to let it set, then make the gelee. I should have noticed that the gelatin is not enough to hold the cream firm enough in a cake form because when I took off the ring, the texture was a little soft. I let it sit in the refrigerator for about two days though before I gave it to my friend to try (simply just don't have time). That's why the red color is not as vibrant in this picture. There is a little panna cotta and gelee leftover, so I put it in a ramekin (no strawberry mousse though).



I didn't get a chance to taste the big cake, but I did eat the small ramekins with my nephew. Well, I should say mostly my nephew because he literally licked the ramekins and the spoon off. It was delicious!!! My friend brought me a slice of the big cake the following day and it tasted just as good. In the future, I think I will add more gelatin if I make it into a big cake, but it's perfect the way it is for individual glasses. It's creamy and very refreshing. I'll need to work on the proportion of each component too to make it a little taller. Try it and you will like it :)


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