When my friends Claudia and Cristina gave me these for my birthday last year I had to smile my biggest smile. What a wonderful idea! Little pudding molds in the shape of a laughing Buddha as a symbol of earthly pleasures, happiness and abundance. Absolutely perfect to represent the joys of cooking and of sharing the food you prepare with your loved ones!
And what about the name? Buddino in Italian means 'little Buddha' but it also recalls "budino", the Italian word for pudding. If the copywriter who invented it is not a genius I don't know who is! :)
After forgetting the little Buddhas in a closet - still unused - for too long I rediscovered them while "space clearing" my kitchen - a very necessary operation seen the limited room in my cupboards and drawers and the huge quantity of culinary attributes and gadgets I own - too many!
Seeing the four happy little fellas smiling at me inspired me to experiment with cream and other ingredients so that I would find the great panna cotta recipe that I was looking for since a couple of years but was too lazy to concoct. Up to now I used a relatively satisfactory recipe with cornstarch instead of gelatin as thickening agent (I never liked gelatin since it's made with bones, skins, cartilage and other by-products of the meat industry) but I wasn't completely convinced about the fact that this combination of ingredients was the "final" one. I decided to substitute cornstarch with agar agar, made with tiny seaweed and thus perfectly suitable for my vegetarian clients and friends. Yes, this is a vegetarian panna cotta and now it's simply divine!
To tell you the truth, my first experiment was NOT a success. I used too much agar agar and the panna cotta had a pleasant taste but was too hard, not as nice and wobbly as it's supposed to be and with that lovely, smooth texture this dessert HAS to have.
A second try with a lot less agar agar (a little sachet goes a long way!) gave far better results and now I can definitely say I've found the panna cotta of my life.
Eating the little Buddha's head made me feel a little guilty (just a little!) but then I found THE perfect excuse for keeping on gobbling down the dessert: I thought that with every bite I would take in a tiny bit of the great Buddha's wisdom. Clever, huh? ;)
So here's the recipe. The combination of honey-sweet - but not too sweet - panna cotta and luscious, slightly tart and verrrry sexy raspberry-lime coulis is definitely a winning one. Try it and then you tell me.
Panna cotta with raspberry-lime coulis
For 4 big or 6 small portions
Ingredients for the panna cotta:
6 dl. whipping cream
40 gr. granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of powdered agar agar (3 gr.)
1 tablespoon of honey
1 little pinch of vanilla powder or 1 tablespoons of vanilla essence
Ingredients for the coulis:
250 gr. raspberries
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
2 tablespoons of lime juice
blueberries and raspberries to garnish
Pour cream and sugar in a medium-size saucepan and mix well with a whip or a wooden spoon.
Bring the mixture to a simmer and keep on stirring without letting it boil. The cream has to simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the flame and add the powdered agar agar stirring well until it's completely incorporated into the cream. Leave to rest for about 5 minutes.
Reheat the cream once again and let it gently simmer for a few more minutes stirring from time to time. Make sure the cream does not reach a boil.
Turn off the heat and wait until the cream is lukewarm. At this point you can add honey and vanilla powder and mix well.
Pass the mixture through a fine sieve using a wooden spoon to push down the agar agar that didnât dissolve properly and mix again. If you use powdered agar agar instead of flakes you'll have less to sieve. I have tried both types and can definitely recommend the powdered version.
Pour the cream into four-six wet panna cotta molds (they have to be really wet so that the pudding will not stick to the mold), cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.
Serve with the coulis prepared blending together raspberries, sugar and lime juice and then passing this mixture through a fine sieve to smoothen it.
Garnish with a few fresh, plump berries.
************** ************** Music for cool little Buddhas (click) ************** **************
Isn't he cute?