Thursday, January 3, 2008

Panna Cotta

This is a really easy dessert, that turns out differently every time I make it (due to my habit of not measuring everything). Everyone seems to like it and it as also goes by the names milk jello and white stuff. I made this for the New Year's party and I think it turned out really well because I whisked things together instead of just stirring with a spoon or using the mixer (which can deflate it).

Panna Cotta

1 c. half and half
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 packet unflavored gelatin
4 Tbl. water
1 c. cream

1. Sprinkle gelatin over water in shallow dish to soften. Let sit at least 3 minutes.
2. In a heavy saucepan over low heat dissolve sugar in half and half. Do not boil.
3. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in gelatin and nutmeg.
4. Place saucepan in refrigerator to cool.
5. Whip the cream to stiff peaks.
6. Fold or whisk to cream into the cooled (but not set) gelatin mixture.
7. Pour panna cotta into molds and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

If your gelatin set while you were whipping the cream (it happens) then whisk it really well and you can use a mixer to combine everything and get the lumps out.

To release the molds I use very hot water in a bowl. I dip and swirl the mold while trying not to burn my fingers or get water in the mold. The trick is then to hold the mold and give it a snapping, twisting wrist motion before slamming it down onto the plate. At least that's what works with my individual molds. I then put them back into the fridge until it's time to serve them. If you release them right before serving there will be a thin melted layer on top.

This is one of the only recipes that I don't really feel the need to alter. I don't add vanilla! I lie, I did actually change this recipe up a bit. It can be made with 2 cups of cream instead of one cup 1/2 and 1/2 and once cup cream. Its really rich that way. I actually like it better with 1/2 and 1/2. Once upon a time I'd also top it with caramel, but really, I find it to be too much trouble, and I like the full nutmeg flavor.

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