No flower has made its place as a symbol of love–and its commercialization–as the rose. Valentine's bouquets and christmas centerpieces to single roses given in gesture of love or even apology. But aesthetics have taken priority over scent and seldom do roses smell up to their full potential. Their scent is what makes these flowers so special and to allow that to be bred away is floral sacrilege. I didn't realize just how much I was missing until my boyfriend's family left their home in the Loire Valley for one by the sea in Normandy, and with it came the most beautiful rose garden I have ever seen. There must be at least fifty different types of roses in this garden of eden already filled with every flower and fruit tree you could dream of. And they bloom by color and season with pink and white roses in the spring; red and purple in summer; and yellow and orange roses in the autumn. The exploding orangey pink ones smell like sweet peaches. The white ones by the frog pond are faint and delicate. And the scarlet roses lining the vegetable garden fence with their intoxicating perfume are so delicious that you truly can't pull yourself away from smelling them. These are the petals I used for my rose panna cotta recipe. Panna cotta is a classic Italian dessert, but the French have unlocked magical culinary uses of roses.
This recipe is deceptively easy to make, can be whipped up in minutes, and received more compliments than any other desert much to my relief as I decided to make it for the first time before a special dinner party. The richness of the cream combined with the subtle rose flavor makes for a delicately balanced dessert. I paired it with my almond milk poached cod recipe and it serves as the perfect finish for any meal, decadent or light.
1 envelope gelatin or vegan agar-agar (1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons (30ml) cold water
2 cups (250ml) heavy cream/almond milk
1 cup (250ml) milk/almond or hazelnut milk
1/2 (200g) cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or pod seeds
Fragrant rose petals, 1 cup/handful + extra for garnishing
In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin or agar-agar powder over 2 tablespoons of water and gently stir over a very low flame until dissolved (if using agar-agar make sure not to cook to long as high heat can destroy it). Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large saucepan bring cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and rose petals to a gentle boil and moderate heat. (If you have extra time, turn off heat and let mixture sit for 10 minutes to allow the perfume of the rose petals to further infuse).
Strain mixture into a large bowl to separate petals. Stir in gelatin/agar-agar until well incorporated.
Divide mixture among about 8 small ramekins and allow to cool to room temperature before chilling in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
*If you would like to serve panna cotta outside ramekins. Dip ramekins into hot water for a few seconds and run a thin knife around edges to loosen the mixture and invert onto a plate. Garnish with a rose petal.
Chocolate Rose Panna Cotta
Melt 200g of dark chocolate au-bain-marie and right after mixing gelatin/agar-agar.
Stir in melted chocolate and pour into ramekins.
Let cool and top with poached peaches.
Rose Petal Poached Peaches
Peel peaches and place in large saucepan. Cover entirely with water, add 3 tablespoons of honey or sugar and a small handful of fragrance rose petals.
Gently simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove peaches from water (you can reserve the liquid for cocktails and champagne mixers) and chill.
Slice and serve atop panna cotta after it has hardened and set.