When I was little, I used to go to my Grandma’s house for Sunday dinner. Usually, she made a roast with potatoes and carrots. It was delicious and I have never since had a meal that compares to hers. My Midwestern Grandmother knows the key to a classic pot roast dinner.
Over the weekend, we were invited to a Sunday dinner with some friends in Tokyo. This dinner was less Midwestern and more Eastern European. Everything was delicious and comforting. The perfect way to end a rainy weekend. The only thing Brad and I were asked to bring was dessert. And chocolate seemed to be the answer.
In an attempt to make a dessert special enough for Sunday dinner, I turned to my collection of cookbooks. When my good friend Jenn came visit last spring, she brought a copy of Giada de Laurentiis’ newest cookbook for me. I have been a huge fan of Giada for a long time and own all three of her cookbooks. I hadn’t tried any of her dessert recipes in the most recent book yet, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity.
The decision to make this intensely rich panna cotta was a simple one. What I had not considered is that my immersion blender/electric mixer is broken. So, I had to whisk the whipped cream by hand. It took me about half an hour and one very sore arm before I got light, creamy, luscious amaretto whipped cream. The bowl was ice cold to start and I periodically put it back in the freezer every 10 minutes or so to help speed up the process. Let’s just say that I truly appreciated that whipped cream. Probably more than any whipped cream I have ever made. However, the pain was worth it in the name of Sunday Dinner. And no…there are no leftovers.
Chocolate Panna Cotta with Amaretto Whipped Cream (Recipe by Giada de Laurentiis)
Makes 4-6 servings
2 cups cold whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 packet unflavored gelatin
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (12-oz) bag bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon almond liqueur
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the milk, the granulated sugar, and the vanilla. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 1/2 cup of cold milk and let it dissolve for 2 minutes. Combine the cold milk and gelatin with the hot milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve the gelatin, about 5 minutes. (Heat the milk gently if the gelatin is not dissolving easily.) When the gelatin is dissolved, combine the eggs with the warm milk mixture, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or small pitcher.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate over simmering water in a double boiler. When the chocolate is melted, gradually combine the milk and egg mixture with the melted chocolate, stirring between each addition to create a smooth mixture.
Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the top with the almonds. Place the casserole dish in a larger baking pan or roasting pan and add hot water to the larger pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the casserole dish. Place both pans in the oven and bake the panna cotta until the sides are firm and the center just jiggles slightly, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes.
Just before serving, whip the cream to soft peaks in a medium bowl using a whisk or electric hand mixer. Add the confectioners’ sugar and almond liqueur and whip to combine. Spoon the panna cotta into individual serving bowls and dollop the top with the almond whipped cream.