Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lemon Verbena Panna Cotta with Mulberries

This was a triumph! And possibly the world's easiest dessert to make.



Lemon verbena is the best of all the lemon-scented herbs. If you have any room left at all in your garden, you really should plant it.  It grows into a medium-size shrub and its heavenly scent brushes off whenever you walk by.  It smells more lemony than lemons - clean, fresh and floral, with none of that citronella tang that some other lemon herbs have. It's not easy to find in stores, but it's so easy to grow! And it's not invasive like lemon balm.

Mulberries are a fantastic fruit - they grow wild all over city streets, but are somehow overlooked by most people. They taste a lot like blackberries (and I grew up eating a lot of blackberries) but chewier, and less tangy. In fact, I like to add a little lime juice to balance out their sweetness. They ripen around the same time the lemon verbena is leafing out, and the two taste amazing together!

1 packet gelatine
3 T. cold water
Grapeseed oil or other neutral-tasting oil
2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half (I used 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream)
1/4 cup sugar
A handful of lemon verbena leaves (you could substitute lemon balm or other lemon herbs, or chopped lemongrass)
2 cups mulberries
Juice of 1 lime
1 T. sugar

Combine gelatine and water in a bowl big enough to hold all the cream. Lightly oil several small ramekins or little condiment bowls of any sort. Heat the cream, sugar and lemon verbena leaves, stirring constantly over medium flame until almost boiling. Pour through a strainer into the bowl with the gelatine. Whisk thoroughly to combine the gelatine. Pour into the ramekins and chill anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days.

About ten minutes before serving, combine mulberries, lime juice and sugar to macerate. Run an oiled knife around the edge of the ramekins and invert each panna cotta onto a plate. Top with mulberries and garnish with lemon verbena leaves.