A friend sent me this recipe just before the holidays. I was totally fascinated by it as Panna Cotta is one of my favorite desserts, so I had to try it. It does take a few steps more than I’m usually comfortable with, and I was a little hesitant, to try but the end result worth it and that’s what is important.
Everyone raved over the dessert, even though it was not as stunning as I expected, my fault I’m sure. I will make it again for another holiday or special occasion and I know this time it will be easier having made it once. Just know that you really need more than one day to make this cake.
MAKING THE CAKE:
4 SQUARES (4 OZ) BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE – chopped
3 EGGS – room temperature, large
4 TBS COCOA POWDER – unsweetened
½ CUP ESPRESSO -freshly made, hot
½ CUP HOT WATER
1 CUP FLOUR
1 TSP BAKING POWDER
½ TSP BAKING SODA
PINCH OF SALT
1/3 CUP OIL – vegetable or canola
½ CUP SUGAR
½ CUP GOLDEN SUGAR – packed
½ CUP SOUR CREAM
PREHEAT OVEN TO 350º.
GREASE OR SPRAY 2 10-INCH SPRINGFORM PANS
Place chocolate and cocoa in a bowl, pour hot coffee and hot water over all and whisk until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a heavy-duty mixer, beat oil, sugars, for a minute or two. Add eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add in sour cream and mix well. On low-speed mix in ½ of the dry ingredients, mix in chocolate and beat until well blended. Add. remaining dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until all combined and batter is thin. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Do not be concerned that the layers are shallow.
Bake cakes for about 20 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Place pans on a rack to cool.
MAKING THE PANNA COTTA:
½ CUP WATER
5 TBS GELATIN – unflavored –(5 packets)
8 OZ BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE – chopped
5 OZ MILK CHOCOLATE – use a good quality
2 ½ CUPS HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM
2 ½ CUPS WHOLE MILK
½ CUP SUGAR
2 TSPS VANILLA EXTRACT – use Almond, if you prefer
PINCH OF NUTMEG – to taste
Place ½ cup of water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over and let soften for about 15 minutes. Place both chocolates in a large metal bowl. Combine, milk, cream, sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla in a large saucepan and bring to slow boil stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, add gelatin mixture and whisk until completely dissolved. Pour cream mixture over the bowl containing the chocolates and whisk until completely melted. Place bowl over a larger bowl of ice water. Stir often until mixture thickens and resembles pudding, adding ice as needed to keep the bowl cold – 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from over the water and wipe bottom of bowl.
Pour ½ of the panna cotta evenly over one cake, reserving the rest. (no worry if mixture drips down the sides. Freeze for about 45 minutes while remaining panna cotta stays at room temperature.
Remove pan sides from the second cake and with the help of a very large sturdy spatula, carefully slide the cake of the pan and place on top of the panna cotta in the first pan; Pour remaining panna cotta over, filling the pan completely. Chill over night before finishing the cake.
TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE BAND, which is a very integral part of the cake, you will need 2 strips of wax paper (16×3- inch each) and you will need 5 oz of bittersweet chocolate – chopped.
Line large baking sheet with foil and set aside. Place another large sheet of foil on your work surface and place waxed paper strips on top of foil, spacing them apart so you can manage better. Place chocolate in a medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water and stir constantly until smooth. Pour half of the melted chocolate down the center of each waxed paper strip. Using an offset spatula spread the chocolate out to cover the strips evenly, spreading some of the chocolate out to extend over the edges. Make sure the strips are completely covered. Carefully lift the strips up and place on the foil-lined sheet. Chill until chocolate just begins to set but is still pliable. (If the chocolate gets too hard it will not be pliable enough to bend and will crack). Chilling will only take a very few minutes.
Slide an offset spatula carefully around the inside of the springform pan to release the cake edges and carefully remove the sides from the cake. Carefully lift 1 chocolate band from foil and wrap the chocolate band around the loosened cake. The band will be higher than the cake. Repeat process with the second chocolate band and arrange to that the ends meet and trim any extra. Softly press the chocolate band onto the cake so that it adheres. Let the excess stand up like a little border or decoration. This will look decorative or hold any fruit such as strawberries that you may want to add for decoration.
Chill cake well before serving so best to complete the day before.