blackberry panna cotta with hazelnut shortbread

Blackberry panna cotta with hazelnut shortbread
Blackberry panna cotta with hazelnut shortbread

As September approached this year, I got quite excited about the prospect of going blackberry picking. Memories of lovely autumn walks from my childhood and the satisfaction of seeing the blackberries we’d gathered transformed into a delicious dessert made me keen to start foraging with my own little ones.

On our first attempt, although we had fun scrabbling around in the bushes, by the time we headed home, we’d either scoffed or dropped all of the blackberries we’d picked. The second excursion, which involved just me by the side of a busy road on a blustery Sunday morning, wasn’t quite so enjoyable, but it was at least fruitful.

Rather than a traditional crumble or pie, I decided to use my harvest to make this pretty panna cotta. Sweet and creamy with the distinctive flavour of vanilla, this is a real crowd-pleaser. The subtle blackberry coulis adds the finishing touch and pairs perfectly with the roasted hazelnuts in the crumbly, buttery shortbread.

Although this has three components, each one is super-easy to make and can be prepared up to a day in advance. This makes it ideal for when you’re having people over but don’t want to miss all the fun as you slave away in the kitchen.

If you’re thinking it’s too late to pick your own blackberries, never fear. The season isn’t quite over yet, so if you haven’t already got a freezer stash, now’s the time to head out and gather some of the little purple beauties for yourself.

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Blackberry panna cotta with hazelnut shortbread
Blackberry panna cotta with hazelnut shortbread
Blackberry panna cotta with hazelnut shortbread
  1. Place the gelatine leaves in cold water to soak.
  2. Combine the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla bean paste in a heavy-based saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, remove from the heat.
  3. One by one, squeeze the excess water out of each gelatine leaf and stir into the cream mixture until dissolved.
  4. Rinse six 150 ml metal pudding moulds with cold water but do not dry them. Immediately divide the cream mixture between the moulds.
  5. When cool, cover each mould with cling film and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours until set.
  1. Place the blackberries and sugar in a saucepan with 50 ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes until the fruit is soft.
  2. Transfer to a bowl or food processor and blend. Then strain through a sieve. When cool, store in a covered container in the fridge.
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 4.
  2. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar, either in a food processor, using the blade attachment, or in a mixing bowl, using a fork.
  4. Add the flour and hazelnuts to the creamed butter and sugar. Combine in the food processor or mixing bowl to form a soft paste.
  5. Spoon onto a floured surface and, with floured hands, roll into about 12 walnut-sized balls. Transfer to the baking sheet and flatten slightly with your fingers to form 3-4 cm rounds. Make sure you leave some space around each biscuit as they will spread slightly in the oven. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until very lightly coloured. When cool, store in an airtight container.
  1. Dip each pudding mould in hot water for 5-10 seconds and turn out onto a plate. Pour some coulis over each panna cotta and scatter over the remaining blackberries. Serve with the shortbread.
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