Recipe: Mint to Be

Cerulean pastry chef Pete Schmutte shares an easy yet elegant recipe for silky custard.

Mint-leaf Panna Cotta, Chocolate & Berries

•  1 cup picked mint leaves, whole
•  1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder (about 1 tablespoon)
•  2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon cold water
•  1 cups whole milk
•  1 cups heavy cream
•  6 tablespoons granulated sugar
•  One drop mint extract
•  ½ cup heavy cream
•  ½ cup whole milk
•  ¼ cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped
•  1 ounce unsalted butter (at room temperature)
•  1 pint fresh berries of choice, whole
•  2 teaspoons granulated sugar


Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Toss the mint leaves into the water and boil for 30 seconds. Strain out the leaves and plunge them into a bowl of ice water. Once cool, strain again. Reserve the leaves and set aside. In a separate bowl, evenly sprinkle gelatin over the cold water. Let stand for 2–5 minutes to allow gelatin to absorb liquid. Set mixture aside.
Place milk, cream, sugar, and blanched mint leaves in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring all to a simmer. As soon as liquid simmers, cover and remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Add gelatin-water mix and the mint extract.Stir occasionally. Using a blender or hand mixer, blend until smooth. Pass through a mesh strainer (fine sieve). Divide equally into 6 wine glasses. Chill uncovered in the refrigerator until set, at least 2 hours. Can be made two days ahead.
For the chocolate sauce, combine cream and milk in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer. Once simmer is reached, remove from heat. Put chocolate in pot with cream and stir to melt. Add butter to mixture and stir with whisk or hand blender until smooth. For the berries, combine them with sugar in a bowl and toss together. Let sit to allow the berries to release their natural juices. To serve, pour a layer of chocolate sauce on top of each set panna cotta, and then add a layer of macerated berries.
We found mint at Locally Grown Gardens (1050 E. 54th St., 317-255-8555), and it can likely be found from other sources, in more stores.

Photo by Tony Valainis

This article appeared in the May 2013 issue.