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
- 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.