This dessert combines two of the most nostalgia-inducing things from my childhood: matcha and panna cotta. The latter being my absolute favourite when I was about 7, I’d get it every single time whenever we went to the bakery and is still my go-to choice for afternoon tea or post-meal light dessert. There’s just something so attractive in its simplicity, the milky richness and the way it dissolves in your mouth.
Matcha, on the other hand, was my mum’s obsession, almost in an unhealthy way. What did she want for shaved ice? Matcha and azuki beans. What ice cream flavour would she like? Matcha. She brought home taiyaki for our after school snack and guess what kind she got? Dad used to roll his eyes and call it ‘formulaic’, except he himself was converted to a matcha fanatic a couple years ago.
The ideal, dreamy panna cotta should hold its form, but just barely so that it melts onto the heat of your palate. For my preferred texture, I only add enough gelatin so that it sets and doesn’t develop chewing texture. One bite of this and I’m back in first grade, on our excursion to a yam farm, being taught to make ‘the best panna cotta ever’ in literally a cauldron. We licked it up greedily on the bus on the way back, like a scene straight out of an anime, except dirtier.
Super creamy matcha panna cotta with azuki beans
1 T matcha powder
4g (1t) powdered gelatin
*I experimented with reduced-fat and it worked great
First, add enough milk to the matcha until it forms a paste, about 1-2 T. Then sprinkle gelatin over the rest of the milk and leave it for 5 mins to bloom. In the meantime, heat the cream and sugar together until tiny bubbles appear. Turn off the heat and add in the matcha paste and gelatin clump and stir to melt and dissolve. Strain the mixture before pouring into serving dishes (I made 6 portions out of this). For extra azuki-ness, place some sweetened azuki beans at the bottom of the containers.
Tap lightly to release the bubbles and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. If you want to turn them out, quickly dip the containers in hot water first for easy removal.
I don’t have a strict method for the sweetened azuki beans, I just eye it and do things to taste, like my mum does. I soak the beans in water overnight, strain them and boil them for about half an hour until tender, al dente if you like. Depending on how syrupy or dry you like it, keep adding water to the pot so the beans don’t burn. Then add sugar to taste, about one ladle per 500g. Our favourite way to enjoy them is straight out of a bowl with a splash of milk.