Monday, January 20, 2014

Panna Cotta

Have you ever had Panna Cotta? It's an Italian dessert of cream, milk and sugar simmered together and then set with gelatin. It can be topped with anything from fruit to caramel to chocolate; but my favorite is fruit. (Shocker! I almost always choose chocolate above all else.) There's just something about how the smooth and creamy panna cotta plays off the sweet and tart fruit that is heavenly.
   I made this for dessert the other day, and didn't think that I would be able to blog it because I didn't take pictures as I was making it, and it was too dark when I finished to take any usable photos. I thought for sure that every bit of it would be gone by morning, but I (or rather you) got lucky. Two desserts made it until the following day, and these are them.

Since the mixture is in liquid form at first, you can pour it into any vessel of choice. I love the way it looks in martini glasses, and even wine glasses, but since I don't drink you won't find those in my house (although I have been tempted to by some just for desserts). I chose to do mini muffin cups and a parfait glass. They both turned out wonderfully.
    Word to the wise, though, if you want to turn your panna cotta out onto a dish (like the first photo) you should invest in silicone muffin cups. Just run a butter knife around the edges, turn it upside down onto the play and turn the muffin cup inside out. They come out perfectly.
   I did the muffin cups for the kids, but I had some left-over so I did the parfait cups for me and my hubby. I really enjoy digging into the set cream and berry mixture. It's mysteriously satisfying.

The last time that I had this dessert was at an investment club meeting a decade ago. It was served with mixed fruit on top (mangos and berries) and I still think about it all the time. It baffles me that I haven't made it before now. It's extremely simple and only 4 ingredients.
I topped it with some blueberries coated in my Special Strawberry Jam. Yum, yum!

Here's the recipe:

Panna Cotta

1/3 cup skim milk 
1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin 
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk (can also use cream) 
1/2 cup white sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pour skim milk into a small bowl, and stir in the gelatin powder. Set aside. 
In a saucepan, stir together the heavy cream, milk and sugar, and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, watching carefully, as the cream will quickly rise to the top of the pan. Turn the heat down to low. Pour the gelatin mixture into the cream, stirring until completely dissolved. Simmer for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and pour into dishes. Chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

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