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Similar to a panna cotta, this pudding is made using carrageen seaweed, flavoured with cardamon, and as full fat milk is its main ingredient it’s milky, soft and rich with just a hint of spice.
First, make the carrageen moss panna cotta by steeping the carrageen in tepid water for ten minutes. Drain and add to a pot with the milk and vanilla pod, which you can split, scrape the seeds out of and drop both the seeds and pod in. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a low simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on. Stir in the sugar towards the end and then strain through a sieve, making sure you squeeze the thickening, jelly-like agent from the seaweed as much as possible. Discard the carrageen at this point, it’s now done its job.
Decant the milky mixture into a jug to enable easier pouring. Pour into four or six moulds, whether you’re using large or small ramekins or little stainless steel pudding basins like we did – 180ml size for six and 335ml size for four. Once cool, place in the fridge and allow to chill, ideally overnight but a good hour or two will do.
Next, make the stewed prunes by adding pitted prunes to a saucepan with a full-bodied, spicy wine, sugar, orange peel and cinnamon stick and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow to stew and cook down for around 45 minutes to an hour, uncovered, until the plums are plumped up again and the sauce has reduced to a thickened syrup. Remove the peel and spice and allow to cool until just warm if serving immediately. If making ahead, wait until it’s completely cold and store covered in the fridge for up to three days.
Next, make the biscotti. Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC (180ºC Fan) and sieve the sugar, baking powder, salt and flour into a large glass bowl, followed by the shelled pistachios and dried cranberries. Add the beaten egg and bring together with your hand into a firm-ish dough. Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface and remove the dough, kneading just ever so slightly more on the floured surface until it holds together, separate into two and make into slightly flattened fat logs.
Bake the biscotti at 200ºC for 20 minutes, then take out and knock the heat down to 150ºC. After about ten minutes when the part-baked biscotti doughs have cooled and hardened a little on the baking tray, slice into 2cm lengths and place back on the baking sheet, assembled in flat rows, for a further 15 minutes, turning half way to colour the other side. When done they will be golden and dry. Turn off the oven and allow to completely dry out, with the door ajar. These can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an airtight container.
Everything before now can be done a couple of day in advance. You can reheat the stewed prunes in syrup and also give the biscotti a little blast in a moderately warm oven. Next: on to the assembly. To free the panna cotta from the moulds, it’s best to take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before eating to allow to come to room temperature. Submerge each pot carefully into a dish of boiling water and hold there for 10-15 seconds making sure the water never touches the top of the basin. Take out of the water and dry the mould on a tea towel quickly and running a bread knife that’s been soaking in a cup of hot water around the interior edges before inverting and placing on your serving dish of choice. Give a little wobble and shake and the panna cotta should come clean out, or at least with very gentle coaxing of the knife towards the upper dome as you might need to encourage the natural vacuum to release.
Top the panna cotta with three stewed prunes per person, a generous drizzle of the thickened wine syrup and a biscotti or two on the side.
All to be sourced organic where possible
For the carrageen panna cotta
800ml full-fat organic milk
8g dried carrageen/Irish Moss
2 tsp organic cardamom, ground
1 organic vanilla pod, split in half
3 tsbp organic sugar
For the biscotti
250g organic plain flour
2 large organic, free-range eggs, beaten
125g organic sugar
100g peeled organic pistachios
100g organic dried cranberries
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fennel seeds, ground in a pestle and mortar