Thursday, April 26, 2012

Almond Vanilla PANNA COTTA

Panna Cotta (Cooked Cream) is an Italian dessert that is easy to make and great for spring. It has a custard-like texture but contains no eggs, so using good cream is essential. There are so many recipe variations, but it traditionally consists of cream, sugar, vanilla or almond extract, and gelatin. If using all heavy cream is too much for you, you may use ½ cream and ½ milk, ½ milk and ½ butter milk, or use a nondairy product such as almond milk or soy milk. It all works well. My recipe is in the middle of the fat spectrum, with 50% cream and 50% milk. This is a good way to start if you want to experiment more.

Wine suggestions:  A fine, sweet sparkling wine, such as Moscato d’ Asti from Piedmont, or a late-harvest Riesling (Spätlese).

PANNA COTTA with Almond-Vanilla Flavor
Makes 4 six-ounce glass cups or ramekins

2 teaspoons (1 package) unflavored gelatin
1 cup whole milk (bring to room temperature)
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
Fresh seasonal berries


In a medium bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and stir well to blend. Set aside until the gelatin is completely absorbed.

In a small saucepan, combine cream and sugar over moderate heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Do not boil the cream.

Remove from heat, then slowly pour the cream into the milk and gelatin mixture. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, and whisk to completely dissolve the gelatin. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large glass measuring cup or clean bowl.

Pour the mixture into 4 glass cups or ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set -- at least 2 hours. Serve Panna Cotta with fresh berries of your choice.