May Baking Project: Wheat-Free Desserts

by moderndomestic on May 6, 2009

Strawberry Panna Cotta

My pants need some help.

I may have to go on a pants hiatus.

All this baking has started to catch up with me.

I know that the great illusion of food blogging and food writing in general is that one can eat absolutely anything and never pay a price for it. But I’m in the mood to break the fourth wall. It catches up with you.

I’m also pretty sure I have a low-level wheat allergy (I won’t tell you why I know this, because you wouldn’t really want to know the details, trust me. Just be assured that I’ve seen signs), and all this baking isn’t exactly helping me on that front.

So I’ve decided that the May Baking Project is going to be a little different – wheat free desserts.

No, it’s not “healthy” desserts, because I don’t believe in them. I’ve done the low-calorie, no-calorie, no-sugar dessert thing, and it never worked for me. I’d rather have a small piece of something delicious than a large piece of something that is a mere echo of what I actually want to eat.

But focusing on cutting out the wheat, rather than cutting out the calories, may be just the trick for me. I find starchy carbs ridiculously easy to snack on, which is neither good for my complexion, nor my waistline. Given the opportunity, I could eat an entire pound cake in one day (and no, you’re not going to find out how I know that one either).

Since I don’t believe in desserts that are dumbed down for health reasons, this is just the time of year to cook up some treats that are naturally wheat-free. Focusing on the wonderful fruits and berries that are cropping up in farmers markets all over DC – and even in my crappy Giant – are a good strategy for avoiding floury desserts.

Which leads me to the first dessert of this challenge, which is really an extension of last month’s custard project. I told you that I wanted to do a panna-cotta do-over, so I tried my hand at this version made with strawberries and buttermilk. I was extremely excited about this panna cotta, which is naturally wheat-free, especially as the last panna cotta was so near to being perfect. But this was merely okay.

Maybe it’s because the strawberries at my Giant are so poor quality, but this tasted more like a jello-version of cheap strawberry ice cream than the luscious, strawberry-flavored custard that I was seeking. The buttermilk brought a nice bite to the dish, but the texture was still on the rubbery side.

Looks like this do-over needs a do-over.

Strawberry Panna Cotta 2

Strawberry panna cotta, naturally wheat-free.

Strawberry Panna Cotta
Adapted from this Epicurious recipe.

Panna Cotta Ingredients
1 pound strawberries, sliced
1 3/4 cups well-shaken low-fat buttermilk
6 tbs sugar
2 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin, from less than 2 (1/4-oz) envelopes
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

Strawberry Topping Ingredients

1/2 pound strawberries, sliced
1 tsp sugar

Blend strawberries, buttermilk, and sugar in a blender until very smooth, then pour through a very fine sieve into a medium bowl, pressing hard on solids. Discard solids.

Sprinkle gelatin over milk in a small bowl and let stand 1 minute to soften.

Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture, stirring until dissolved.

Whisk cream mixture into strawberry purée and pour into molds. Chill molds, covered, until firm, at least 8 hours.

For the topping, mix strawberries and sugar together in a small bowl and let sit for an hour until the sugar dissolves. You can add more or less sugar depending on the sweetness of the berries.

To unmold, dip molds in a small bowl of hot water 2 or 3 seconds, then invert panna cottas onto dessert plates and remove molds. Please note that I found this ridiculously difficult, and had at least two panna cottas unmold in a less-than-perfect manner.

Top each panna cotta with strawberry topping and serve.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alice May 6, 2009 at 7:33 pm

What’s with the comments that just quote your post?

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moderndomestic May 6, 2009 at 7:49 pm

It’s called a “pingback” – it’s when another blog quotes your blog.

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