Over the past few days, I was preparing desserts in cups, known as verrine, for my school project. Although it seemed simple, the overall time I spent to make the verrines was no shorter than making a complicated entremet or petite gateau. There were 5 components in the verrine: vanilla panna cotta, balsamic strawberry compote, balsamic pickled strawberry, raspberry cream and chopped pistachio as garnish. On top of that, I am trying to add pistachio dacquoise to make the desserts more interesting.
Verrine is a small transparent glass container, which is usually used to hold amuse-bouche or bite-sized foods before serving the appetizer. The contrasting elements are arranged and layered delicately in a small glass to unveil their beautiful colors and textures. Philippe Conticini, a French chef and pastry chef, was the first to served desserts in a verrine rather than on a plate traditionally.
The first component that I prepared for my verrine dessert is the balsamic pickled strawberry, because obviously it took time to produce nicely flavored pickles. First, place 450 g of sliced strawberries in a glass jar (do wash and dry the strawberries with paper towel). Then, bring the following ingredients — 250 g balsamic vinegar, 125 g water, 80 g maple cup and 1 tablespoon salt — to a boil. Once salt is dissolved and liquid has come to a boil, remove it from heat and pour over the strawberries. Place the lid on jar and allow the liquids to cool before refrigerating. I kept the pickled strawberries for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, but they can be kept even for months.
This is the first time I combine these components together in my creation. The tangy acidic pickled strawberry neutralizes the sweetness of strawberry compote and vanilla panna cotta, making it more appetizing. The taste of balsamic vinegar also blends well with raspberry. I hope my sharing encourages you to attempt some new dessert flavor combinations. 🙂
Enjoy your journey of making desserts and pastry!
Ingredients (yield 10 small cups)
(A) Vanilla Panna Cotta
Whipping cream 250g
Gelatin leaves 2g
Vanilla beans 3g
(B) Balsamic Strawberry Compote
Strawberries, sliced 250g
Balsamic vinegar 45g
Vanilla pod 1 no. (scrape out the seeds)
(C) Raspberry cream
Raspberry puree 200g
Gelatin leaves 6g
Whipped cream 200g
- To prepare the vanilla panna cotta: Bloom gelatin leaves in ice cold water and squeeze out excess water. In a saucepan, bring cream and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin and vanilla beans. Cool the cream mixture in an ice-water bath until the mixture thickens slightly, stir with a spatula occasionally. Pour into verrine cups and chill until firm.
- To prepare balsamic strawberry compote: Preheat oven to 130 degrees Celsius. In an oven tray, place the strawberries, sugar, balsamic vinegar and vanilla pod. Toss until well mixed, and set aside for 15 minutes to macerate the berries. Give the mixture one last toss, then roast in the oven for 2 hours, tossing occasionally until the liquid reduces to a syrupy consistency. Transfer the compote into a sterilized hot jar or container and leave to cool before refrigerating.
- To prepare the raspberry cream: Gently warm the raspberry puree and sugar in a saucepan. Mix in the bloomed gelatin and stir to dissolve the gelatin. Let to puree mixture cool down slightly before folding in the whipped cream. Chill the cream in a piping bag until it is firm enough to pipe.
- To assemble: Once the panna cotta is firm, put a thin layer of strawberry compote on top of the panna cotta. Then, place cubes of balsamic pickled strawberry on the compote. Pipe some chilled raspberry cream, covering the pickled strawberry. Garnish with some chopped pistachio.