It’s Valentine’s and the most romantic thing you can do this Valentine’s Day is making a sumptuous meal for the person you love. Reconsider the reservation and forget the fancy, overcrowded restaurant and put on an apron and get your hands dirty.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to really surprise, to go that extra mile and cook a few of the special occasion recipes you’ve been wanting to try. This is something you should celebrate, to take time to reflect on your loved one, the happiness that relationship brings and to recollect a passage from a favourite romance novel and recreate the essence of magic.

Why not create the perfect strawberry panna cotta with a sparkling champagne cocktail, it will definitely ensure an incredible evening allowing yourself to take the time to dote over the tactile pleasures of an Italian themed evening.

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SERVES 2
PANNA COTTA INGREDIENTS:

200 ml double cream
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
1 Lindt excellence dark strawberry bar (100 grams)
40 grams granulated sugar
1 tablespoon crystallised rose petals, lightly crushed in mortar & pestle
1 vanilla pod
¼ teaspoon pure Madagascan vanilla bourbon (or use vanilla extract)
2 ramekins and oil for greasing
Caramel Sauce (see recipe)

PANNA COTTA METHOD:

Pour 100ml of double cream into a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla pod and scrape the black seeds into the cream. Sprinkle the gelatin powder over the surface and let blossom for about 5 minutes.

Place the pot on the stove over med-low heat and cook, stirring until the gelatin is just dissolved.

Add the rest of the double cream, crushed crystalised rose petals, sugar, pure Madagascan vanilla bourbon and vanilla pod. Stir to dissolve the sugar and cook, continuing to stir occasionally until it’s almost boiling and bubbles start to form on the sides of the pan.

Remove from the heat, break up the chocolate and add to the sauce, stirring until completely melted and combined.
Cover and allow the panna cotta mixture to steep for about 30 minutes.

After steeping, remove the vanilla pods and pour into 2 ramekins of your choice. Remember to lightly grease the ramekins with olive oil or a neutral oil before pouring in the mixture.

Chill in the fridge for at least four hours or up to a day (if chilling up to a day cover with cling film). To serve the panna cotta dip the bases of the moulds briefly into hot water and turn out onto 2 dessert plates.

Garnish with caramel sauce and sprinkle with sea salt and enjoy with a sparkly glass of champagne for your romantic and relaxing evening.

CARAMEL SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

75 grams granulated sugar
600 ml water
Pinch of sea salt flakes

CARAMEL SAUCE METHOD:

First, place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat, wait and watch as it simmers to a white frothy liquid.

As the sugar melts, DO NOT STIR, instead gently swirl the pan to distribute the liquid ensuring the sugar melts evenly. (Stirring the sugar causes recrystallization and clumps). If crystals and clumps form simply dip a pastry brush in water and brush the sides of the pan down to dissolve any crystals or clumps.

In a matter of minutes, the sugar will change colour from clear, to light amber and finally to a nice dark amber. Continue to swirl the pan as needed to make sure it’s caramelizing evenly, remember no stirring!

Remember the caramel can burn quickly, so keep a close eye on it. As soon as it reaches a dark amber, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat.

Carefully pour over the panna cotta and sprinkle with sea salt flakes and devour. Remember use the sauce right away as it will cool and harden very quickly.

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