Elderflower Panna Cotta with Elderberry Syrup

I’m sure I don’t have to ask whether you put up quantities of elderflower cordial and elderberry syrup this year…right? I’ll confess that I skipped the berries—too much travel away from home this summer to make a jaunt to the far side of the mountains where the blue elderberry grows. Luckily I have a half-pint left over from last year, along with a good amount of the cordial.

The Brits have a fondness for elderflower desserts, in particular Elderflower Panna Cotta. Do a search online and you’ll find all these great recipes—in grams and milliliters. Believe me, I feel bad that I’m clueless about the metric system. I was part of that generation that started to switch over in school, for maybe a year, until Reagan was elected and put that communist conspiracy out to pasture.

So for all you New World Elderflower Panna Cotta lovers out there, here’s a recipe in good ol’ Americanese. Pay attention, it’s a toughie.

1 pint heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar*
1/4 oz granulated, unsweetened gelatine**
1/2 cup elderflower cordial
elderberry syrup (optional)

* I used regular granulated sugar. Ideally you would use finer baker’s sugar, known in the UK as caster sugar.

** My grocery didn’t have sheets of gelatine, so I bought a 1-oz box of four gelatine packets. The first time I made the Panna Cotta I used two packets, totaling a 1/2 oz of gelatine. The general consensus at home was that it was too firm and gelatinous, if that makes sense. The second time I cut the gelatine in half and the result was perfect.

1. Heat the cream in a saucepan until not quite boiling. DO NOT BOIL.

2. Slowly whisk in sugar, making sure it dissolves thoroughly. Next, slowly whisk in the gelatine, making sure that dissolves thoroughly as well. If you’re not careful it will clump and ruin the texture of your Panna Cotta.

3. Remove from heat and stir in elderflower cordial. The flavor of elderflower is delicate and easily cooked off if subject to excessive heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

4. Pour into ramekins, tea cups, or moulds and refrigerate for four hours or overnight. I lightly greased my ramekins with butter. To remove Panna Cotta, dip the ramekin in a bowl of hot water for a minute or two and run the tip of a sharp knife around the edge. Shake out Panna Cotta.

5. Serve with a spoonful of elderberry syrup drizzled over the top. Contrary to most of the images of Elderflower Panna Cotta you’ll see online, served in big round quivering portions, I like to slice it into wedges. Seems more appetizing that way, to me at least. Garnish with a mint leaf or berries.

With less gelatine this Panna Cotta has a smooth, silky, custardy texture. It’s so easy to make and so delicious that you’ll momentarily forget the stupidity of being stuck with cups and feet.

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