Culture Street

S E R V E S 4
This little dessert is much easier than it looks and is a great one to make the night before. There are so many delicious flavours coming together with the almond, vanilla, cream and exotic chai spices. It makes a nutritious and refreshing breakfast during summer, too, though you might want to hold the amaretto!

olive oil, for greasing
1 vanilla pod (see note)
250 ml (1 cup) sweetened
almond milk
250 ml (1 cup) pouring cream
1 tablespoon honey
2 gelatine leaves
fresh fruits of your choice (e.g mixed berries or figs when they are in season)
edible flowers, for garnish (optional)

Chai–honey syrup
1 teaspoon tea leaves
2 cm piece of ginger, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods, bruised
6 black peppercorns
3 cloves
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons amaretto

Lightly oil four ½-cup capacity ramekins or panna cotta moulds. Using a small, sharp knife, split the vanilla pod lengthways and gently scrape the insides to remove the seeds. Place the seeds in a small saucepan with the almond milk, cream and honey. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat.

Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5–10 minutes or until just softened. Squeeze out the excess liquid and add the gelatine to the cream mixture, stirring for 1–2 minutes until dissolved. Strain the cream through a fine sieve into a jug, then pour into the prepared ramekins or moulds. Cover and refrigerate for 2–3 hours or until set.

For the syrup, pour 500?ml (2 cups) of water into a small saucepan. Add the tea, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns and cloves and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2–3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside for 15 minutes to infuse.

Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and discard the solids. Return the liquid to the pan, add the honey and amaretto and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Cook for 3–4 minutes or until slightly thickened and syrupy.

Pour into a jug and set aside until needed.

To serve the panna cotta, carefully run a thin-bladed knife around the insides of the moulds and invert onto serving plates. Top with the fresh fruits, a drizzle of syrup and edible flowers, if using.

• Never throw a vanilla pod away! Use it to make your own vanilla extract instead. Put the pod in a tall, narrow jar and pour alcohol (such as vodka) over it until it’s fully covered.
Leave to infuse for a couple of months in a cool, dark place. Alternatively, you can bury it in a jar of caster sugar to make beautiful vanilla-scented sugar.
• To make your own sweetened almond milk, soak 250 g raw, unsalted almonds in filtered water overnight. Drain. Place the almonds, 4 pitted medjool dates and 1 litre (4 cups) fresh filtered water in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Strain through muslin.
It will keep in the fridge for 2–3 days. Spread the leftover almond solids onto a tray, dehydrate in the oven and use as almond meal in baking.

Happy and Whole jacket imageRecipe and images from Happy and Whole by Magdalena Roze, $39.99, published by Macmillan Australia. You can buy the book here.

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