You might well of heard of acorn coffee, one of the ersatz coffees of the second world war. It does not taste much like coffee but I love its malty caramel flavours and think that with a little imagination we could use acorns in many dishes.
The great thing about using acorns as flavouring is that they do not need the lengthy processing that we go through when we want to use them as flour or nuts.
To make acorn coffee you just need to shell the acorns and roast them well, before grinding to a granular powder. (details below)
This recipe is delicious. Serve it with salted caramel sauce and a tuile biscuit….. or two.
Acorn pannacotta serves 4
2 x 2g leaves of gelatine
30g acorns, shelled
350ml double cream
50g caster sugar
Place the acorns on a baking tray and roast in an oven preheated to 150°C/Gas Mark 2 until they are deep brown; be careful not to let them burn or they will taste very bitter. Leave to cool, then grind to a coarse powder in a spice mill or coffee grinder.
Put the cream, milk, sugar and ground acorns in a thick-bottomed saucepan and gently bring to the boil. Pull to the side of the stove and leave to infuse for 40 minutes, to extract as much of the acorn flavour as you can.
Soak the gelatine in plenty of cold water. Heat the infused milk, cream and sugar mixture. Remove the gelatine from the water, squeeze to remove excess and add to the pan. Whisk in the gelatin until completely dissolved. Pour through a sieve into a 4 expresso cups or small ramekins . Refrigerate until set (about 4 hours).
To turn out, dip the ramekins into hot water briefly and turn out onto your serving plates.