Espresso Panna Cotta with Italian Meringue Brulé Clouds
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 ounce shots of espresso
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp freshly ground espresso
small square cheesecloth
4 small coffee cups, mugs or ramekins
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
pinch cream of tartar
kitchen cooking torch
Spoon 3 tbsp freshly ground espresso onto the square piece of cheesecloth. Tie securely with string to make a sachet.
Pour the milk into a medium sized saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over top and allow it to sit for 5 minutes to allow the gelatin to soften. Turn to medium heat and cook, stirring for 2 minutes until the gelatin dissolves. Do not allow the milk to boil.
Add the cream, espresso shots, sugar and pinch of salt. Pop in the sachet. Stir over low heat for 3 more minutes until all of the sugar is dissolved. Gently press the espresso sachet to allow some fine grounds to filter through. As the milk mixture heats, the sachet can continue to be pressed to allow more color and espresso flavor to be released.
Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly. Place four coffee cups, mugs or individual bowls on a silpat lined cookie sheet so they don’t move. Ladle the creamy mixture into each cup, dividing equally.
Move the tray to the fridge and allow to cool, stirring every 20 minutes for the first hour only. After that, cover (I didn’t even cover mine) and let set for a minimum of six hours (I prefered the texture after a day). It can be kept up to two days in the fridge.
A while before serving, mix up the meringue according to the directions on your powdered meringue container. If making meringue from scratch, put egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar into a very clean mixing bowl over a simmering pot of water. Using a hand held mixer, beat on low at first, then slowly bring to high speed. Beat until the meringue reaches 140°F, remove from heat and continue to beat until the meringue has stiff peaks.
Heap the meringue on top of the Espresso Panna Cotta cups, swirling for effect. Refrigerate and just before serving, lightly brown the meringue using a hand-held kitchen cooking torch.