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panna cotta

Last summer I was out to dinner at a restaurant in Tualatin while visiting family in Oregon, and I had a dessert unlike any I’d ever had. It came to me in a wine glass and it was this yogurty-custurdy-creamy amazingness topped with berries. I devoured it. It was like a sundae in which you try to get a little bit of the topping with each bite of the ice cream, and I was so busy focusing on the berry to cream ratio for each bite that when I looked up, all the sudden my glass was empty. In case you have ever wondered, wine glasses are hard to lick clean. Unfortunately, although this was a radical dessert moment for me, my life went on and as time passed, sweet wineglass yummies were forgotten.

Until we went back for the holidays this year. We drove past the restaurant (Hayden’s Lakefront Grill) and it all came flooding back to me. We didn’t get a chance to stop there and eat the desert during our very busy escapade through the Pacific Northwest, but it was on my mind when our plane touched down in Chicago. I immediately called Hayden’s in Oregon and asked what the heck it was that I had eaten so many months ago, and why I am forever changed. They told me that the dessert was:

Panna Cotta

The plastic cup does not do it justice.

(cue angelic singing) Immediately I found a recipe for this fabulous Italian cooked cream dessert, and whipped up a batch. It turned out exactly like my divine dining experience, and the only hard part of the recipe was waiting for it to set for 4 hours (I took some bites at 3). Here is panna cotta done easy courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis (also, I used frozen berries):

1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch salt
2 cups assorted fresh berries

Place the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to soften the gelatin. Pour milk mixture into a heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves but the milk does not boil, about 5 minutes. Add the cream, honey, sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour into 6 wine glasses so that they are 1/2 full. Cool slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

Spoon the berries atop the panna cotta and serve.

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