I am a panna cotta fanatic, and if I’m dining out and I see they have this creamy dessert on the menu I almost always order it. Panna cotta translates simply as cooked cream, and you can vary the flavors by using a myriad of additives, as well as by substituting yogurt or buttermilk for the cream. Although cream creates a exceptionally smooth, rich pudding, yogurt and buttermilk are also delicious, adding a slight tang, as well as reducing calories. I used fat free Greek yogurt in this version, naturally sweetened with honey and subtly flavored with basil. To top my panna cotta, I simply macerated fresh, chopped strawberries in a little lemon juice, sugar, and fresh basil. The finished dessert is exceptionally pretty with the soft green custard topped with vibrant, bright berries. Panna cotta is always a great choice when entertaining, as you can prepare it ahead of time, then simply remove from the refrigerator when ready to serve.
Deborah Mele 2013
Basil Panna Cotta With Macerated Strawberries
- 1 Cup Plus 3 Tablespoons Skim Milk
- 1 Envelope Unflavored Powdered Gelatin
- 1/4 to 1/3 Cup Organic Honey
- 1 Tablespoon Grated Orange Zest
- 1 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves
- 2 Cups Fat Free Greek Yogurt (I Prefer Fage Brand)
- 1 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Strawberries
- 1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
- 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the 3 tablespoons of milk, and allow to rest for 5 minutes to soften. In a saucepan, heat the remaining 1 cup of milk until it is simmering but before it comes to a full boil.
- Add the orange zest, and 1/4 cup of the honey, stir and taste.
- Add the remaining honey if you prefer it sweeter.
- Blanch the basil in boiling water for 30 seconds, then rinse in cold water.
- Squeeze the basil to remove water, then add to the milk.
- Place the mixture into a blender and pulse until blended.
- Strain the mixture through a sieve, and return to the pot.
- Bring the milk back to a simmer, then whisk in the gelatin and continue to whisk until it has completed melted into the hot milk.
- Remove from the heat, then stir in the two cups of yogurt and mix until well blended.
- Pour the mixture into 6 (1/2 cup ramekins) or 4 larger glasses and refrigerate for at least 3 to 4 hours.
- For the topping, mix together all the topping ingredients and refrigerate until needed.
- If using ramekins, run a sharp knife around the edges and turn out onto small plates .
- To serve, place a scoop of the strawberries on each panna cotta with some of the syrup.