Thursday, October 07, 2010

Comfort as the Cold Sets In : Honey Laced Panna Cotta

You will be hard pressed to make or enjoy a better dessert than Panna Cotta. If you read my blog, or you know me, you are aware that I'm an avid cake and cookie lover, yet, there is something about this creamy dessert that's stolen my heart. It's like a cup of pudding and a slice of cheesecake had a little baby and stuck her in a glass ramekin. Panna cotta is incredibly easy, fairly low on sugar (well, this particular recipe is), decadent, and can be paired with so many flavors, from stone fruit, to berries, to cookies (imagine!), to coffee, to chocolate. . . my goodness the possibilities are numerous, limited only by your imagination!

I made this particular dessert for a dear friend of mine who has recently cut down a lot on her sugar intake. While I realize this recipe has a tinsy bit of white sugar and even more honey (and I do realize that honey converts to sugar once inside of our complex bodies), it's far lower than most cake, cookie, or other sweet confection recipes you'll find out there, without sacrificing on richness and flavor. Plus, this dear friend of mine is a fiend for all things creamy.

I'm a huge fan of the classic combination of milk and honey. Both flavors are quite delicate on their own, making the task of combining the two, while still being able to decipher their unique flavors, a bit of a challenge, not here. I topped each one with vanilla bean brown sugar poached pear slices, and fresh blackerries. An ode to the end of September here in the northwest, and quite the ode at that. 

So, bring on the Panna Cotta I say!

Honey Laced Panna Cotta 
serves 6


1 cup of whole milk
3 cups whipping cream
1 Tablespoon gelatin
1/2 Tablespoon white sugar
1/3 cup clover honey
garnish of your choice


1. Pour just the milk into a medium heavy bottom saucepan on the stove. Sprinkle gelatin over the top and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes (no heat). 
2. Turn your burner onto medium/low heat, stirring often, cook the milk and gelatin for about 3-5 minutes until gelatin has fully dissolved and milk is hot, but not bubbling. 
3. Pour your heavy cream, honey, and sugar into your milk mixture. Cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until honey and sugars have dissolved. 
4. Pour into desired vessels, I've used decorative glassware, stemware, and pictured are mini trifle dishes. 
5. Allow to cool a few minutes on the counter, then wrap them and place them in your refrigerator overnight, or no less than 5 hours. I made mine same day around 4pm, served at 11pm, and they were perfect. 
6. Once chilled garnish with desired fruit, and serve!

For brown sugar poached pears: 

I didn't use a recipe for this one ladies and gentlemen, I flew by the seed of my pants as they say, but I'll share with you my process. First, I peeled, sliced, and pitted two anjou pears. I then threw them in a small pot with about 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup of water, scraping one vanilla bean and adding the bean husk to the whole shabang. I brought the whole mixture to a light bubble, covered it (to keep liquid in the pan and slowly poach the pears) and cooked for about 15-20 minutes. I then removed the pears from (then tossed) the brown sugar liquid and kept them stored at room temp in a small tupperware until I was ready to serve them atop the panna cotta! Pretty simple!


RamblingTart said...

I adore panna cotta too!! Yours is so pretty with the blackberries. :-)

RachelleLouise said...

Welll, since I am said 'creamy-loving' friend, I can attest first hand that this dessert is DELIGHTFUL and simply perfect on an early fall evening! So thick and creamy, perfectly set and wobbly, luscious flavoring of honey and vanilla bean! The poached pear and fresh blackberries lended perfect balance! What a stunner, darling! xoxo