Panna cotta for me tastes like birthdays and family celebrations. The person in charge of making it was always my grandmother, a genuine Piedmontese and the only true owner of the perfect recipe.
I have eaten so many of them that I can, without fear of exaggerating, consider myself an expert panna cotta tester! The test is the same one I did as a child with a spoon. I knew if the consistency was right depending on how the dessert clung to the steel. Needless to say, my grandmother’s was always perfect! Too bad, however, that the same could not be said of those I then tried in restaurants, which were often too sweet and lacked that round and decisive flavour given by the cream!
Milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and isinglass; but in the early years I used to see my grandmother use egg whites instead of isinglass. She was able to work them to perfection, but then she too converted to isinglass, which perhaps is not as poetic but is certainly more practical!
Among the vices with which she pampered and spoiled me, my grandmother used to prepare various accompanying toppings so that we could then choose at the table which was our favourite. For the chocolate sauce, I was the official helper: my grandmother would break dark chocolate into small pieces in a saucepan with fresh cream, put them in a bain-marie and I would take care of “checking” when it turned into the perfect mixture! Then there was the more classic caramel version, which flooded the house with that scent of burnt sugar, and if I close my eyes it still feels as if it were yesterday.