Light dessert is just right for Easter
This is probably one of the easiest and fastest desserts. I have experimented with several panna cotta recipes and find this one the most appealing.
Panna cotta originates from northern Italy and is generally a mixture of heavy cream, half and half and milk that is added to gelatin. The whole process takes five minutes, though the setting of the custard can take up to four hours in the refrigerator.
The trick is to use less gelatin than most recipes call for to achieve a much lighter custard texture. Panna cotta is often served with wild raspberries, blackberries, strawberries or even chocolate.
I opted for something a bit more exotic, adding a cinnamon-nutmeg dried fruit confit topping that is perfect for Easter celebrations.
3 egg yolks
1⁄2 cup local blackberry honey
2 tablespoons orange blossom
1⁄4 cup vanilla extract
For dried fruit confit:
1⁄2 cup yellow raisins
1⁄2 cup black raisins
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried figs, quartered
1 cup dried plums
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups late-harvest dessert wine
For panna cotta:
1-1⁄2 packets unflavored gelatin
1⁄2 cup cold water
4 cups heavy cream
In a stainless steel bowl, combine egg yolks, honey, orange blossom and vanilla. Whisk the mixture and set the bowl over a hot water bath. Whisk constantly until the mixture is fluffy, about three to five minutes. Remove the mixture from the hot water bath and whisk thoroughly. Set aside.
To prepare the dried fruit confit, wash the fruits thoroughly in cold water and drain. Discard the water. Place the fruits in a large bowl and cover with fresh water. Soak for two hours. Drain, this time reserving the water.
Over medium heat, cook the fruit in a large pan. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, wine and reserved soaking water. Cook for 45 minutes over low heat, until the sauce thickens and the fruits are tender though still a bit firm. Remove from heat and let the sauce cool a bit before serving.
This particular panna cotta recipe is partly firm and partly light.
Add the gelatin to the 1⁄2 cup of cold water and let it stand for five minutes.
In a large pot, simmer the cream over low heat for eight minutes. Do not let it boil. Remove from heat and mix in the gelatin and the egg yolk mixtures. Strain the cream mixture before pouring it into eight individual serving size ceramic ramekins or martini glasses. Refrigerate for up to four hours to set the custard.
Top the panna cotta with the dried fruit confit just before serving.