December has to be one of my favourite months of the year. Everywhere is full of festive cheer and twinkling lights and the party season is in full swing. Here I’ve come up with a recipe full of the flavours of the festive season – and, of course, Tarquin’s Cornish Christmas Gin! I’ve taken inspiration from Cornwall, famous for its clotted cream, and come up with a variation on panna cotta, accompanied by figs poached in a delicious syrup and finished off with a shot of Tarquin’s Cornish Christmas Gin. This makes a delicious alternative to Christmas pudding, or a sumptuous dessert for a December dinner party.
Spiced Mascarpone Panna Cotta with Poached Figs
1. To make the panna cotta, place all the ingredients, except the gelatine and mascarpone, in a pan. Bring to a boil slowly, then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5-10 minutes.
2. Strain the cream mixture and return to the pan. Squeeze out the gelatine and add to the cream, stirring until dissolved. You may need to warm the mix up a little to get the gelatine to dissolve completely.
3. Leave the m.ix to cool, then add the mascarpone and whisk until completely combined with the cream mixture. Pour the mixture into 8 small glass bowls or lightly oiled ramekins, and pop into the fridge to set.
4. Make a start on your figs by pricking each fruit two or three times with a skewer to prevent them from bursting.
5. Put the Marsala, water and orange juice into a shallow pan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat, then add the figs in a single layer, stalk ends up. Place back on the heat and bring back to a gentle simmer. Put a lid on the pan and cook gently for 15 minutes.
6. Remove the figs with a slotted spoon and place in a serving dish. Add the slaked arrowroot to the poaching liquid and simmer for 2 minutes until slightly thickened. Allow to cool to room temperature then add a double measure of gin. Pour over the figs.
7. To serve, turn out the panna cottas onto serving plates and place a fig on each plate, drizzled with the poaching syrup. Alternatively, leave them in the glass bowls, pour on the syrup and top with a fig.
For the panna cotta
400ml full-fat milk
200ml single cream
2 tbsp syrup from a jar of preserved ginger
1 star anise
5 allspice berries
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg 1 tsp vanilla essence
20g leaf gelatine
For the poached figs
8 large fresh figs
125ml Marsala wine
100ml smooth orange juice
2 tsp arrowroot, slaked in a little water
50ml Tarquin’s Cornish Christmas Gin