When I went to Australia last year, my mum was testing a dessert for her friend's 60th birthday. The end result was so delicious and beautiful, I decided it would be the perfect thing to serve at my photography workshop and supper club.
Last year, Paul Winch-Furness, professional food photographer extraordinaire, and his indispensable assistant (and much loved food blogger) Kavey, and I, hosted a day long supper club. I tried to cook food that was both good to eat and photograph, whilst Paul and Kavey had the much harder job of teaching our 10 guests how to take stunning photos of my food!
The photos of the dessert in this post were taken by Megan and Paul who attended the course - I think most guests wouldn't have believed they were capable of the gorgeous shots they ended up with at the end of the day!
The dessert was coconut and white chocolate pannacotta, with white chocolate granita, caramelised pineapple and macadamia toffee glass. The recipe is very closely based on this one on the BBC Food website, and apparently featured on Master Chef. All elements of the dessert can be made ahead of time, so it's perfect for entertaining. Oh, and it looks good enough to photograph!
Coconut and white chocolate pannacotta, white chocolate granita, caramelised pineapple and macadamia toffee glass
For the granita
125g/4½oz good-quality white chocolate
100ml/3½fl oz whipping cream
250ml/9fl oz water
For the panna cotta
2½ leaves gelatine
150ml/5fl oz whole milk
150ml/5fl oz double cream
25g/1oz caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
85g/3oz good-quality white chocolate
100ml/3½fl oz coconut milk
For the caramelised pineapple
For the macadamia disc
50g/1¾oz macadamia nuts
100ml/3½fl oz water
150g/5½oz caster sugar
1 tsp liquid glucose
1. For the granita, put the chocolate and cream into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted and the mixture is smooth, then remove from the heat.
2.Whisk in the water, then transfer the mixture to a plastic container and place in the freezer. Every half an hour or so, stir the frozen edges of the mixture into the middle of the container and break up any frozen pieces with a fork. Return to the freezer and repeat the process until the mixture is frozen but still fluffy. This will take 3-4
hours. Whisk once more with a fork just before serving. (Or just cheat like I did - throw the lot in the ice cream maker. Done. You can make the ice cream up to a week in advance)
3. Meanwhile, make the panna cotta. Soak the gelatine in ice-cold water for 10 minutes. Place four metal rings, each about 5cm/2in diameter and 6cm/2½in deep on a small baking tray or flat plate and line each with cling film. (Or just use ramekins, either silicon ones, or ones greased with a little vegetable oil)
4. Place the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla pod and its seeds into a saucepan and heat gently until simmering, stirring constantly. When the sugar has completely dissolved remove the pan from the heat.
5. Put the chocolate and coconut milk into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted and the mixture is smooth, then remove the pan from the heat. Strain the milk and cream mixture through a fine sieve into the melted chocolate and coconut milk and stir until completely smooth.
6. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine, add the gelatine to the panna cotta mixture and whisk until completely smooth. Divide the mixture between the four metal rings (ramekins) and transfer to the fridge for 2-3
hours or until set. (You can make these 1-2 days in advance)
7. For the pineapple, peel, core and slice the pineapple into rounds (2cm thick) and then slice each disc into eighths. In a container mix the pineapple with a little water, a few tablespoons of honey and 3-4 tablespoons of brown sugar. Once coated, cook the pineapple on a hot grill (so that you get sexy grill marks!). Once grilled on both sides, put back in the sugary/honey water until ready to serve. You can see from the photos that I skewered mine onto fancy schmancy toothpicks. The grilled pineapple pieces will keep in the liquid in a container for a day for two.
9. For the macadamia discs, turn up the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Roughly crush the macadamia nuts in a pestle and mortar (otherwise known as a wizz, or a chopping board and big knife), spread them out onto a non-stick baking tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the tray from time to time, until lightly toasted.
10. Place the water, sugar and glucose in a large pan. Place over a high heat and stir occasionally. The sugar will start to bubble as it dissolves and heats up; watch it carefully and wipe away any crystals that form on the inside of the pan with a wet pastry brush.
11.When the sugar in the pan begins to turn an amber colour, remove the pan from the heat and set the base in cold water to stop the cooking.
12. Lay a large silicone sheet onto a baking tray, pour the caramel onto the sheet and spread it out with a spatula to a thickness of about 3mm; be very careful as the sugar will be extremely hot.
13. Quickly sprinkle the toasted nuts evenly across the top of the caramel, then cut out four 5cm/2in diameter discs. Set aside to cool completely. (OK, my mum and I tried this disc method, and frankly, I couldn't do it. Plus I liked the look of shards rather than discs. So I let the toffee set on the trays, and then just broke it up once it had cooled. Be sure to keep in an airtight container before serving - it will keep for several days. Don't put it in the fridge or it will soften)
14. To serve, fill four chilled shot glasses with the granita. Turn the panna cottas onto serving plates and top each with a macadamia praline disc. Add the glasses of granita and caramelised pineapple.