Lavender Panna Cotta with Lemon Cookies & Blueberry Compote

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A brief history of panna cotta: The name panna cotta directly translates to "cooked cream." It is a traditional dessert of northern Italy but is served in restaurants throughout the country. Panna cotta classically consists of cream, milk, gelatin, sugar, and vanilla. However, this classic base is very versatile and can be flavored at the baker's whim. 


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    1.) Why do we use hot water when preparing the lavender water?

    Answer: The hot water helps to release the aromas from the lavender flowers and flavors the water. This process is also used when steeping tea leaves in hot water to make a cup of tea. 

    2.) What is culinary lavender?

    Answer: The short answer is all lavender is edible, but some lavenders taste better than others. Lavender that contains a high content of camphor tends to have a more soapy and medicinal taste. The best varietal to cook with is Lavandula angustifolia. This variety gives a nice floral flavor without being overpowering and soapy (Olson 2021). 

    3.) Why is the cornstarch mixed separately with the milk before it is added to the saucepan with the rest of the ingredients? 

    Answer: The cornstarch is an important ingredient in the panna cotta mixture because when it is activated by heat it thickens the mixture. In order to make sure that the cornstarch is completely incorporated throughout the mixture it is necessary to dissolve it into the milk (this is called a slurry) and then mix it in with the rest of the ingredients. 

    4.) I cooked my panna cotta mixture a bit too long and it is a bit lumpy, what can I do?

    Answer: Don't worry! If your mixture has some lumps in it, you can smooth out the consistency using a fine mesh strainer. Place the strainer over a medium bowl and pour the panna cotta mixture into the strainer. Using a silicone spatula stir the mixture through the strainer. When all of the mixture has passed through scrape the bottom of the strainer to make sure you get all of the mixture in the bowl. *Note: see best practices below for how to avoid a lumpy mixture.

    5.) Some of the panna cotta mixture caramelized on the bottom of my saucepan, should I scrape it into the rest of the mixture? 

    Answer: If your heat is slightly too high, or if the sugar wasn't fully incorporated into the cream it can result in caramelization on the bottom of your saucepan. If this happens, don't worry, you will still have plenty of good mixture left! When transferring the panna cotta mixture from the saucepan take care to not scrape the caramelized portion from the bottom of the pot. 

    6.) What is a compote?

    Answer: A compote is composed of fresh or dried fruit, sugar, and a liquid. This mixture is slowly cooked down to create a thick sauce. The wonderful team at Blake Hill Preserves created the delicious wild blueberry preserves that are in your box. The wild blueberries were combined with sugar, lemon juice, a little fruit pectin, and slowly cooked down to create the preserves. These preserves are essentially a short cut fruit compote! When a little water is added, and the preserves are heated it creates the perfect blueberry compote sauce!

    Best Practices

    • In step 4 after pouring the lavender water into the filter it is important to gently squeeze the filter so that it does not break and release flowers into your water. It is also important to fully squeeze all the water through so that you get the full flavor of the lavender in the water. 
    • To avoid a lumpy mixture when making the panna cotta make sure your heat is consistent, whisk the mixture continuously, and don't skip making the slurry with the cornstarch before adding it into the rest of the mixture. 
    • When zesting citrus collect the outside peel and not the pith. The pith is the white material between the peel and the flesh. It has a bitter flavor. Put the zester in your dominant hand and the lemon in the other. From the top to the bottom of the lemon, drag the lemon over the zester mini blades in a downward motion. Rotate the lemon and repeat until the peel is removed. If using a cheese grater, place the grater on a small plate. Find the finest holes on the grater. Hold the top of the grater with your non-dominate hand and with your other hand hold the lemon vertically and drag it carefully down one side of the lemon, tilting it slightly to the curve of the fruit. Turn the lemon and repeat until all of the peel is removed. 

    sources: Olson, R. (2021, September 8). Culinary Lavender: What is Culinary Lavender? Lavender Connection.