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Here it is: reveal day. If you didn’t realize it’s reveal day, you probably didn’t know I made a chocolate sable tart shell a couple of days ago and then challenged folks to make their own and fill it with…whatever they wanted. This is how I chose to fill mine.
Cream Cheese Panna Cotta
Since I was working with such a dark chocolate shell, I wanted to be sure the filling contrasted nicely. The butterscotch color of peanut butter or, well…butterscotch…would have worked nicely here. But my brain was stuck on making a black and white tart.
I saw that Roxana from Roxana’s Home Baking shared a splendid pumpkin pie panna cotta tart in a rectangular shell a few days ago, and something clicked. Why hadn’t I ever thought to serve panna cotta in a tart shell? I don’t know, but I decided that my tart shell-less panna cotta days would soon be over. After all, cool-creamy against crunchy-crumbly equals delicious.
I’ve made panna cotta with cream, buttermilk, creme fraiche and sour cream before, but I’d never ventured into the world of cream cheese panna cotta. But that’s what I wanted, so I asked The Google if it had heard of such a thing. Let me tell you, Google didn’t have a lot of information on it, but I did find a fantastic lesson about making panna cotta in general, and the author offered six variations, one of which was cream cheese. Here’s that lesson from chef, culinary instructor and cookbook author Susan S. Bradley from The Luna Cafe in 2011: Mastering Panna Cotta — with Six Variations. If you love panna cotta and want to know how to make it well, read this post.
You will see that I used her measurements exactly, although I did add salt to my base and simplified the procedure. I considered adding some vanilla extract, but I wanted to keep my filling as white as possible. Plus, I love the flavor of cream cheese and wanted it to shine. I thought it was perfect. If you choose to make cream cheese panna cotta, either for your tart filling or just to put in ramekins and serve with some coulis or something, you can certainly flavor yours however you want. If you read Susan’s article, she shares quite a number of ingredients that you can steep into the base, so you aren’t limited just to extracts.
Stuff that Went Kind of Wrong
I thought it would be great to add a layer of strawberry jam to my tart shell before adding the panna cotta. In hindsight, this was not such a great idea. Not only did the jam end up getting runny, it also kept the filling from adhering to the bottom of the tart shell. Hmmph. If you want to add a fruity note, I suggest you either serve a sauce alongside or put the fruity layer on top of the panna cotta layer once it has set up.
The tart dough, while delicious and lovely, decided to stick a bit in the bottom of my pan. And it also decided to stick a bit to reader Maggie’s pan when she tried to take off the tart ring. Not so good when trying to slice and serve. So, to save you the horror (and as I said to Maggie), I suggest you bake in a non-stick two-piece tart pan, spray your regular tart pan with Pam or something similar or cut a disc of either parchment or nonstick foil to fit in the bottom of the pan. If you’re still concerned about sticking, rest the tart on a hot towel for a minute or so to melt any butter that might be acting as glue. Then, shimmy a long, thin spatula under the tart, between the disc and the shell, to make sure nothing is sticking.
Keep in mind that your tart will still be fabulous, but if you want it to cut cleanly, sticking is No Bueno.
On the bright side, the tart shell slices beautifully without getting all weird or crumbly.
Here’s how I made my cream cheese panna cotta tart filling, minus the dumb jam layer.
- 2 oz whole milk
- 1 packet gelatin, (2 1/2 teaspoons)
- 8 oz heavy cream
- 6 oz whole milk
- 6 oz cream cheese, , cut into small pieces and softened
- 3.5 oz granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the 2 oz of cold milk. Stir and set aside for the gelatin to bloom.
- Put all the rest of the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring slowly, until the mixture is about 150F. If you're using a whisk, whisk very slowly because you don't want a bunch of bubbles in your panna cotta mixture.
- Remove from heat and let cool to about 140F, then thoroughly stir in the bloomed gelatin until it has all melted.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher or liquid measure to make pouring easier.
- Fill individual tart shells, a large tart shell or pour into ramekins. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours, then cover and chill until ready to serve.
To make the skinny, skinny lines across my tart, I melted together equal parts heavy cream and chocolate chips along with a splash of corn syrup and a pinch of salt. I put it in a zip top bag and poked a hole in one corner with a toothpick. I did practice how fast I'd have to make the lines to keep them from being squiggly. I just piped onto the counter.
And there you have it. I am so happy to know that cream cheese panna cotta is a thing, because I love cream cheese. And I love panna cotta. And it’s very, very easy to make.
So, have you accepted my tart challenge? Will you make the chocolate sable tart shell and fill it with deliciousness? Whether you fill it with what I made or you opt to go your own way, I really would love to see, or at least hear about, what you make. Share here in the comments or over on the facebook page. If you’re on instagram, tag me. I’m @onlinepastrychef over there.
Thanks so much for spending some time with me today. I hope that news of things going less than perfectly is helpful to you. The tart in the photo is the very tart that had…issues, so please don’t think all is lost if you have a bit of sticking or a bit of leaky jam.
Take care, and have a lovely day.
Update: Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic made the chocolate sable tart shell and filled it with a miraculous banana cream pie filling, topping it with barely sweetened whipped cream and crumbled toffee. Way to meet and exceed the challenge, friend!