Lemon Verbena & Elderflower Panna Cotta with Lemon Curd & Meringue Shards

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Once regarded as one of the most magically powerful of trees, Elder is a forager’s favourite and its flowers are the scent of summer. Elderflowers come from the elder tree that generally grows as a shrub or small tree.

It’s abundant throughout the UK, in woods and along roadside hedgerows. From late May you’ll see masses of tiny white flowers hanging in sprays which develop into purple elderberries later in the summer. Due to the late start of Summer, the Elderflower trees have bloomed closer to June. 

You will need: (Makes 4)

Panna Cotta

100ml whole milk

250ml double cream

40g caster sugar

4 large heads of elderflower

2 gelatine leaves

150g plain yoghurt

– 6 sprigs of lemon verbena

 

Lemon curd:

4 lemons (zest and juice)

200g caster sugar

100g unsalted butter

3 free-range eggs

1 egg yolk

 

Meringue Shards

4 egg whites

115g caster sugar

115g icing sugar

Method:

1) Firstly make the Panna Cotta’s so that they have time to set. Tie the elderflower heads and 3 sprigs of lemon verbena in a muslin or a jay cloth and add to a pan with milk, cream and sugar. Place on a low heat until the mix just reaches boiling point then remove from the heat and let this infuse for 30 mins.

2) Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for 5-10 mins until soft. Remove the muslin cloth from the cream mix and bring it back to just below boiling point. Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine sheets and whisk into the cream mixture. Allow this to cool to room temperature and stir through the plain yoghurt. Pour this into your moulds and allow to set in the fridge for 4 hours.

3) Set the oven to 110c. To make the meringues shards, place the egg whites in a machine mixing bowl with a whisk attachment and whisk until soft peaks start to form. Once formed, turn the machine up to high heat and add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time until it is all combined. The mix should be thick and glossy. Fold in the icing sugar and spread the mix thinly on baking parchment and bake in the oven until hard. Allow to cool fully and then break into large shards.

4) To Make the lemon curd, place the lemon zest, juice, sugar and butter in a metal bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the butter has melted and everything is combined. Gently beat the eggs and additional egg yolk and add this to the bowl whisking constantly until the curd thickens and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and set aside.

5) To make the lemon verbena powder pick the leaves and place them in a microwave for 20 seconds until crispy. Push the crisped leaves through a sieve with your hands to form a powder.

6) To plate, quickly dip the bottom of the pannacotta into a bowl of boiling water and turn it out onto a plate. Dot some of the lemon curd on one side of the plate arrange the shards randomly over the top and finish with a sprinkle of lemon verbena powder.

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