Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dessert | Lemon Panna Cotta with Vegan Lemon Curd

Hola good people! I want to tell you a story. It's the story of how my love for all things lemon began. And well how it evolved.

I must have been all of 6 when my mother would lug me to buy a bunch of things from Bengali Market. I could get to pick one thing that I wanted to eat, two if I had skipped lunch, which meant one sweet one savoury. Or if I nothing else, then eat at Nathu's Sweet Shop and then come back to the Pastry Shop to buy some bread and well, dessert.

Most often than not, I'd end up with a French heart. I loved the crystallised sugar on top and the sweet savoury crunchy puff below. But that was only because I couldn't get myself to buy what I wanted - that pretty lemon yellow tart with fruit on top and what seemed like a soggy bottom.

A year later, or more perhaps, I mustered enough courage to order that dang lemon tart. I sat in the car, as good children must, before I could open my box and bit into the tart. I hated it. It was too sour, too synthetic and way too weird for a 7-year-old to appreciate.

But I plodded on, after all, I'd given up eating that French tart for this terrible dessert, but it was dessert none the less.

For years after (read 15) I never touched a lemon tart. In fact I'd never even come near a cake if it said lemon and god forbid if a lemon dessert crossed my path, I'd be up in arms.

But something happened when in 2003. I was visiting Delhi for a bit, and I met up with some friends at Big Chill in East of Kailash market.  One of them was drinking a thick white smoothie, puckering her face each time she'd taken a sip. I was curious, I needed to try it and called for a straw. That one sip changed everything.

Turned out it was a Lemon Smoothie. Here was a drink that was sweet, sour, puckering, refreshing and just delicious all rolled into one. I ordered for the same, and then another and then another. I don't think I've ever drank anything else at Big Chill ever since, but trust me, that's what got me hooked to lemons.

Since then, I've made lemon cakes, lemon pies, lemon curds, lemon creams but nothing has come close to that first burst of flavour from Big Chill's Lemon Smoothie. Until now, that is.

This Lemon Panna Cotta is a dessert replication of that smoothie. It happened to me by accident. But now it's here to stay. I've used gelatin in my dessert, but feel free to replace with agar agar to have that 100 percent vegetarianness that some of you good people appreciate.

I paired it with my Vegan Lemon Curd (which is perhaps the best lemon curd there is ever) and it worked beautifully for me.  I'd served this at a pop up I'd recently hosted and was left with all of 3 glasses which, by the next morning , had also disappeared (I suspect the husband, but that's a story for later).

Smooth, silky and pucker-worthy, this Lemon Panna Cotta is the love. You could pair it with some berries or even some chocolate to create a fabulous new dessert. Try it to believe it.

Lemon Panna Cotta 
Serves 6

250 ml cream
100 ml coconut milk
5 tblsp sugar
zest of two lemons
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp gelatin
4 tsp water

1. In a saucepan mix together the cream, coconut milk, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Bring it together to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the flavours infuse for atleast 2 hours.
2. Meanwhile soak the gelatin in water. Let it bloom. Heat the cup gently and then add the gelatin to the cooled cream mix.
3. Mix in the lemon juice and salt. You mix the juice in at this point because you don't want the cream to curdle.
4. Strain and pour into glasses. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Top with Vegan Lemon Curd before serving.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Condiment | Eggless & Vegan Lemon Curd

I love lemon curd. I love the tartness. I love the fragrance. I especially love the fatal punch it can give any dessert. But what I don't love is its eggy-ness.

I mean, suppose your eggs are old and you decide to make lemon curd, then you're just done for. While the citrus can mask all the smells, it's the after taste that is difficult to overturn. Just imagine, you want to eat that yummy lemon tart but the taste that's left in your mouth is nothing but "anda". The thought is making me go ewwww.

Now imagine if your eggs aren't cooked through while you're making the curd. Then you're left with that intense raw egg smell that could possibly remind you of an old sock or even worse a wet one. Point is, it can be pretty darn gross.

Which is why an eggless lemon curd is the need of the hour. It is that one recipe that can change the way you look at a lemon tart. It is that one recipe that you have been looking for all your life. I honestly discovered it when I was looking for a vegan recipe and found it here and then it was as if I couldn't stop dreaming about it.

The first time I made this lemon curd, I felt it had a slightly bitter after taste, so I decided to tweak it a bit and figure out the best way to get that wholesome and refreshing lemon punch. I used 5 basic ingredients - coconut cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, salt and corn flour and some water. The end result was delectable.

I tried to make this with whole milk, but I didn't particularly care for it. The coconut cream however is inspired. The coconut takes on lemon flavours beautifully and you can't even tell what the base it unless well, someone tells you the same. The coconut cream also thickens like a dream, which makes it the perfect base of the lemon curd, which in turn also makes it vegan, so you can just about imagine the win-win here.

I did use a drop of yellow colour because I felt that otherwise it was looking way too pale. Just a drop of the Wilton yellow gel did the trick for me.

I used this lemon curd as a topping for my lemon pannacotta, which I will share in the next post. But till then, try this lemon curd to know how awesome it is.

Eggless and Vegan Lemon Curd
Adapted from the Minimalist Baker

Serves 10

1 can coconut cream
zest of 4 lemons
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
4 tsp corn flour
a pinch of salt
1 drop of yellow colour

1. In a saucepan add all the coconut cream, sugar, salt and lemon zest together. Stir and let the sugar dissolve completely.
2. In a bowl mix together the water and the corn flour with 1/4 cup of the lemon juice. Mix well.
3. Add this into the saucepan and keep stirring, making sure you do NOT bring it to a boil.
4. The mixture will take about 10 minutes to thicken keep stirring.
5. Once thick, turn off the heat and add the remaining lemon juice as well as the yellow colour. Pour into a jar and let it cool.
6. Let it sit overnight and then use.