ANISE AND LEMON PANNA COTTA

At Richard Bertinet's fabulous cookery school, I was inspired by chef Jenny Chandler who made panna cotta. Before that I always thought of panna cotta as a rather dull dud of a pudding - something far too gelatinised and claggy. This cuts like butter. 

(c) John Whaite

Ingredients (makes 4)

  •  300ml whole milk 
  • 300ml double cream 
  • 4tbsp caster sugar 
  • Zest of 2 lemons 
  • 3 star anise flowers, whole 
  • 100g greek yoghurt
  • 3 leaves gelatine (I use Dr Oetker platinum grade)

Essential Equipment

4 x 6floz pudding moulds (aluminium are far more willing to release the panna cotta) 

Method

Put the milk, cream, sugar, zest and anise into a medium saucepan and heat over medium/high, stirring gently until the mixture starts to simmer. Allow to simmer for just a minute, then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for a good 20 minutes. Place the gelatine leaves, one by one, into a bowl of cold water and allow to soak.

Once the mixture has infused, heat again until it steams. Remove the gelatine leaves from the water and squeeze out the excess liquid - they should be floppy. Add to the cream mixture and stir in until the gelatine is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat, strain into a jug, and gently beat in the yoghurt until smooth - I use a whisk, though don't aerate. Divide the mixture evenly between the pudding moulds and place onto a tray and into the fridge for at least 4 hours, or until set. 

To unmould the panna cotta, put some hot water into a large bowl and dip each pudding mould into it for just a few seconds at a time - be careful not to get any water onto the panna cotta. Hold the mould upside down over the serving plate at a slight angle, and vigorously tap the rim of the mould onto the plate until the panna cotta pops out.