The smell of rooibos evokes memories of winter holidays at my maternal grandparents in Stellenbosch. My brother and I chasing every moving thing in the fishpond, seeing the snow on the Matroosberg from the garden, the smells of buttermilk rusks and stewed fruit. And always rooibos tea in the afternoon.
The tea adds a wonderful flavour to the creamy panna cotta and the grapefruit a beautiful jewel like colour while cutting the richness perfectly. Add to that the zesty orange and a hint of spice and this is a delicious dessert.
- Panna Cotta
- 250ml double cream
- 250ml full cream milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 4 bags rooibos tea
- seeds from half a vanilla pod
- 5 sheets gelatine
- 1 liter cold water to soak the gelatine
- Poached Grapefruit
- 2 grapefruits, peeled and segmented
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon mixed spice
- Lightly oil 4 ramekins with a neutral flavour oil and place on a tray.
- Gently heat the cream, milk and sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla seeds, teabags and let it infuse for about 5 minutes. Give the teabags a squeeze and remove them from the cream mixture.
- Soak the gelatin leaves in a liter of cold water for 5 minutes, wring the sheets out and add the sheets to the warm cream mixture. Stir until dissolved and pour into the prepared ramekins. Let it set in the fridge for 4 hours.
- Bring the orange juice and sugar to a boil and let it reduce to about half the volume. Stir in the mixed spice, remove from the heat and add the grapefruit segments. Let it cool while the panna cotta sets.
- When the panna cotta has set, run a sharp knife around the edge of each ramekin and unmold the panna cotta onto a plate. Spoon the grapefruit and poaching liquid over the panna cotta and serve.
Wine suggestion from Conrad Louw: Panna Cotta can be a toughie to match. Sweetness in food will highlight the acidity as sourness in wine, unless your wine has been chosen correctly. The Europeans love to have Champagne or sparkling wine with their desserts, and with good reason. This panna cotta is not sweet, it is slightly sweet but impacted with the sweetened fresh citrus. Something like a late harvest would work, but I think it will be too sweet for the elegance of this panna cotta. My best pairing is no doubt an off-dry Method Cap Classique (Champagne-method) with a soft mousse. The best I can think of, that won’t break the bank either, is really a quality MCC for desserts, the elegantly off-dry JC le Roux La Valle N.V. (Pinot Noir driven). It will be a beautiful match, perhaps not for the brand conscious wine snob, but definitely for the epicurean.