Congratulations to Kyte and Sherry! These newlyweds found Milo’s Bonbons through Mike and Sandy, and I had a blast working with them to design and create their wedding dessert table at the 1920s inspired Cicada Restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. For their wedding, we decided on mini cupcakes, macarons and panna cotta desserts, with a 3-tiered cake for cutting and display. The cupcakes came in 4 interesting flavors — purple yam (with purple yam custard filling and mango buttercream), matcha (with matcha custard filling and vanilla buttercream), Calpico (white cupcake with Calpico pudding filling and vanilla buttercream), and strawberry lemon (yellow cupcake with lemon curd filling and strawberry buttercream).
Each cupcake was frosted with a floral pattern in a different color for variety.
The cake itself was a fun flavor combination — white cake with lime curd and guava mousse filling.
After the cake was frosted with buttercream, it was covered in white fondant and then decorated. The bottom layer was covered with gumpaste rose petals, the middle hexagon layer was airbrushed in gold, and the top layer was kept simple in order to contrast with the white gumpaste roses and gold leaves. For the middle layer, I also added a wafer paper ribbon for design and contrast. It took a little while to make all of the florals, but it was a lot of fun to see the cake come together!
The panna cottas were mango jelly and coconut panna cotta.
And while I don’t have a close-up photo of the macarons, we had three varieties: lavendar with blackberry jam, plain shells with lychee jam, and rose with rose-raspberry white chocolate ganache. A floral theme throughout the dessert table!
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have wanted to master a panna cotta, and I think I have settled on the right recipe for me. Ultimately, every recipe is some variation on the ratio of heavy cream to milk (or any other combination of dairy fats), with sugar, gelatin and flavoring.
For this particular version, I first made a raspberry fruit pureegelée(fruit puree slightly diluted with water and apricot nappage, to taste, with gelatin) and let it set in the mini cups on a slant. Then I made my panna cotta, using the recipe below, and poured it into the cups upright. Finally, I topped with some almond granola and a fresh raspberry. I originally intended to make a white chocolate basket for the raspberry but ran out of time. The result was still quite tasty and pretty!
Makes about 28 fl. oz.
- 2 cups (473 mL) heavy cream
- 1½ cups (355 mL) milk
- 5 Tbsp (~63 g) granulated sugar
- 4 sheets gelatin, bloomed (about one packet or one tablespoon of powdered gelatin)
- 1 vanilla bean (split and scraped)
- Heat heavy cream, milk, sugar and scraped vanilla beans until the sugar dissolves. Add the bloomed gelatin.
- Cool in ice bath until lukewarm or just cool. This step helps prevent the fats from separating out into a two-layered panna cotta.
- Pour into molds and chill for about 4 hours or overnight (although the longer you chill, the harder the panna cotta will be).
A lot of my friends take interest in what dessert I might order at dinner, as if having gone to pastry school has somehow elevated my taste. I’m not sure that it has . . . but I do tend to order things that I know I couldn’t make easily. Notwithstanding, one of my favorite desserts to order is panna cotta, which is actually a very simple dessert. It is an Italian custard, basically a “cooked cream” thickened with gelatin. There is something just so perfect about the velvety smooth, subtly sweet custard with a little bit of wobble. It is a great pairing with so many different flavors, whether fruity or spiced.
This version that I made recently for my own housewarming adds Greek yogurt to the mix, which perhaps makes it less of a true panna cotta, but is still easy and yummy. I added a graham cracker base for texture and flavor, and topped with a pear-apricot puree miroir and some pear compote.
Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta
Makes about four 4″ tarts or 5 oz. cups
- 250 mL heavy cream
- 40 g granulated sugar
- 2 sheets gelatin, bloomed (about half a packet of powdered gelatin)
- 175 g Greek yogurt
- ½ t vanilla extract (or vanilla paste, or a whole vanilla bean)
- Heat half of the cream and all of the sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the bloomed gelatin.
- Whip the remaining cream lightly (no peaks should form).
- Combine the hot cream with the yogurt and stir with a spatula. Let cool.
- Add the lightly whipped cream to the mixture.
- Pour into molds and chill.
- Add optional flavoring on top (I mixed about equal parts Bosc apple puree with apricot nappage).
- Insert cute little spoon and enjoy!