Cookbook author, food blogger and cooking teacher Paola Bacchia’s job involves a lot of taste testing. It’s only the middle of the day and she’s already sampled two variations on a Porta Dante prosecco jelly recipe she’s creating especially for Broadsheet – one’s a straight-up jelly, the other includes a layer of peach-infused panna cotta, Italy’s famously light and creamy dessert.

“They’re both good. But I prefer the look and taste of this one,” she says, gesturing toward the panna cotta-swathed option. “I’ve made the panna cotta with yellow peaches, and the colour is divine. It has a pinkish hue, and complements the prosecco jelly beautifully.”

Bacchia’s mother is from the Veneto region, where the prosecco varietal (and Porta Dante, the Italian prosecco used in these recipes) originates, so it makes sense the sparkling drink is a favourite of Bacchia’s. She likes to drink it on its own, mixed with soda water, or as part of a liqueur-based spritz.

It also features in the cooking classes she hosts in her warehouse apartment in North Fitzroy, Melbourne. “About halfway through the class I’ll offer everyone a glass of prosecco,” she says, “And everyone usually accepts!”

Aside from the taste testing, a major perk of Bacchia’s extensive knowledge of Italian food is the travel involved in her research. Bacchia visits Italy twice a year, once for research and once as a host. Every September she shows a small group some of the country’s best food and drink spots.

“I like to go in September because that’s when the grapes are picked,” she says. “The tours take in Trieste and surrounds, and sometimes we actually visit the town of Prosecco, which is of course the place the drink is named for.”

This part of Italy also features in Bacchia’s cookbook, Adriatico, which contains stories, recipes and images from Italy’s Adriatic Coast.

Prosecco jelly may not be something you’d come across in Italy, says Bacchia, but it works well for an Australian crowd. The tasting notes in Porta Dante – apple, juicy pear and apricot – lend themselves nicely to a fresh summer dessert. “The prosecco makes the jelly crisp and refreshing, and it’s best served straight from the fridge, so it’s perfect for a hot summer’s night,” she says.

“In Italy, prosecco is really just for drinking. My parents used to run bars, which are open in the daytime and similar to cafes here, and it was common for people to have a small glass of prosecco with spritz in the morning. It still is, of course.”

Bacchia’s jelly recipe befits a special occasion. “You can serve the jelly in any pretty glasses you own – champagne cups or Martini glasses, or you can place them in jelly moulds and invert them to serve,” she says.

Explore more of Bacchia's recipes on her blog Italy on My Mind.

Recipe: Peach panna cotta and prosecco jelly
Serves 4
Allow 6 hours of setting time (or overnight) for this recipe.

Ingredients:
Peach panna cotta
3 ripe, firm yellow peaches, halved and pitted
75g sugar
2 strips of lemon peel (white pith removed)
200ml cream
50ml milk
50g sugar
4 sheets gold-strength gelatin leaves

Jelly
320ml Porta Dante prosecco
75g sugar
7 gold-strength gelatin leaves

Poached peaches (for serving)
1 firm, ripe yellow peach, halved and pitted
1 firm, ripe white peach, halved and pitted
75g sugar
Small mint leaves to serve (optional)

Method:

Peach panna cotta
Place the peaches in a small saucepan with 250ml (1 cup) water, 75g sugar and the lemon peel. Gently bring to the boil and then simmer for approximately 5 minutes, or until the peaches are soft but still in one piece.

Allow to cool slightly and then lift the peach halves out of the poaching liquid; the skin should slip off easily (discard the skin).

Place the peaches in a food processor to make them into a smooth paste. You can also use a stick blender. You should have 150ml peach paste. Discard the poaching liquid (or save it for adding to a glass of prosecco).

Place the peach pulp, cream, milk and 50g sugar into a small saucepan. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves (do not boil), stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and pass the liquid through a fine meshed sieve to strain out the peach fibres. Transfer to a heatproof jug and set aside.

Place the gelatin leaves in a bowl of cold water. After 5 minutes, squeeze the water from them and add them to the cream mixture. Stir until dissolved completely.

Pour equal amounts of liquid into 4 serving glasses. The glasses should be of a size to leave plenty of room to later put a layer of jelly in plus some peach slices on the top.

Cover the top of the glasses and place in the fridge to set for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

Prosecco jelly
Place the prosecco, 75g sugar and 120ml water in a small saucepan. Heat to a point where the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Remove from the heat and place the liquid in a heatproof jug and set aside.

Place the gelatin leaves in a bowl of cold water. After 5 minutes, squeeze the water from them. Add them to the prosecco and stir until they have dissolved completely.

Pour equal amounts of liquid on top of the set panna cotta in the 4 serving glasses. Cover the top of the glasses and place in the fridge to set for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

Poached peaches (for serving)
Place the peaches in a small saucepan with 250ml (1 cup) water and 75g sugar. Gently bring to the boil and then simmer for approximately 5 minutes, until the peaches are soft but still in one piece.

Allow to cool slightly and then lift the peach halves out of the poaching liquid; the skin should slip off easily (discard the skin).

Discard the poaching liquid (or save it for adding to a glass of prosecco).

Carefully cut into slices – each peach half should make 6–8 slices.

Once the jelly has set, and just before serving, top each with the peach slices. Scatter on small mint leaves if using.

This article was produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Porta Dante Prosecco.