Not many desserts can claim to be impressive to look at and unbelievably delicious, yet easy to make. This Chocolate Mint Panna Cotta is exactly that. Just perfect in it’s simplicity – a silky-smooth and creamy dessert that looks gorgeously tempting, but is created with just a small number of ingredients with hands-on time of a matter of minutes.

Even so, I couldn’t resist adding a crunchy chocolate soil on the side. This is not the chocolate soil of the crushed biscuit variety, this is actually something quite magical – crystallised chocolate. Don’t be intimidated by the sound of that, in essence it simply involves adding chopped chocolate to a bubbling sugar syrup and whisking like mad. The chocolate soil adds a delicious crunchy element to the dish and looks rather pretty too. It is important to use a 70% dark chocolate though, otherwise the soil will be far too sweet.

INGREDIENTS

Chocolate Mint Panna Cotta:

Chocolate Soil:


METHOD

  1. For the Panna cotta, lightly oil 4 x 150ml dariole moulds, ramekins or tea cups.
  2. Roughly chop the chocolate and set aside.
  3. Sprinkle the gelatine over the water and allow to sponge for 5 minutes.
  4. Heat the cream, milk, sugar and mint on low heat until it just comes to the boil, then remove from the heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the chopped chocolate and the sponged gelatine. Use a whisk to mix well until completely dissolved.
  6. Strain over a fine sieve into a measuring jug, then pour into your prepared moulds.
  7. Refrigerate for a 3-4 hours until set.
  8. For the chocolate soil, line a baking tray with a silicon mat or greaseproof paper.
  9. Roughly chop the chocolate and set aside.
  10. Place the castor sugar and water into a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
  11. Increase the heat to high and continue cooking until the syrup is bubbling vigorously and comes to 135°C on a sugar thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, cook until the syrup at the edges of the saucepan is just starting to turn golden.
  12. Quickly remove the saucepan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate to the syrup, whisking as fast as possible. The choclate will melt and then crystallise. Continue whisking until it forms a sandy, crumbly texture.
  13. Decant the chocolate soil onto the prepared tray and leave to cool. Once cooled, store in an airtight container until needed.
  14. When you are ready to serve, briefly dip the panna cotta moulds into warm water, then invert onto a plate (or serve as is in ramekin/teacup). Decorate each plate with 1-2 tbsp of chocolate soil and a sprig of mint.

Chocolate bark 4