Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sweet Cherry & Brown Sugar Panna Cotta

My desire for all things smooth and creamy is a reaction to the unbearable heat we're having right now. Today it feels like 42ºC with the humidex. And, while I'm enthuiastically looking forward to the heat and humidity of Hawaii, that's a far more gentle humidity than the smog filled reek of Toronto.

Thanks to Phil's heroic efforts last year to get us an air conditioner (He seriously got the last one available in the downtown core), our top floor apartment is relatively cool at 26º. And while this spells good news for our ability to sleep at night, it does mean that our electricity bill is skyrocketing as I write this.

So, as I turn up the thermostat on the a/c one more degree (how high can we go before it's no longer bearable in the bedroom?), I find myself craving the cool and the creamy.

This panna cotta is so smooth, you'll never believe there's no cream in it. Just look at those gorgeous white tops:

This is a very gently set panna cotta - and the cherry gelatin is very gently set.

Wobbly, I believe is the word to describe it.

You can, of course, attempt to unmold it from its glass or ramekin, but I quite like serving it as it is, inside a glass vessel. You're forced to dig down to the bottom for the cherry layer, and I'm a sucker for treasure hunting.

Sweet Cherry & Brown Sugar Panna Cotta

(inspired by this recipe from epicurious)

serves 4 as a small dessert or 2 very generously


for cherry layer

½ tsp gelatin
½ cup cherry juice
½ tbsp lemon juice
½ cup pitted, quartered sweet cherries
½ tbsp amaretto (optional)

for yogurt layer

1 tsp gelatin
½ cup 1-2% milk
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup thickened yogurt (see step 1)
½ tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt


1. Place ¼ cup cherry juice in a small saucepan. Sprinkle with ½ tsp gelatin. Allow gelatin to soften for 5 minutes. Heat juice/gelatin mixture and stir, until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in remaining cherry layer ingredients. Divide mixture evenly between ramekins/glasses/whatever you're serving these in. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes to set up.

2. Clean small saucepan. There's no sense in getting another one dirty! Pour in ¼ cup milk and sprinkle with 1 tsp gelatin.Allow to sit for 5 minutes so gelatin can soften. Heat over medium heat, stirring gently, until gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in remaining yogurt layer ingredients. Remove glasses from freezer. Gently pour some of the yogurt mixture over top of the cherry mixture. It's important to do this gently, as the cherries will not totally have set yet. Repeat with remaining glasses. Place in the fridge to set, at least 4 hours before serving.

And guess what, made with 4% yogurt, this recipe still clocks in at a lowly 220 calories per serving, based on 2 servings per recipe. That makes this beach goer very, very happy!


Locavore Family said...

Oh dear lord. I need some gelatin, STAT. We make our own yogurt with whole milk, so it should be good and rich for this dessert. I just want to sit, as close to naked as possible (while still maintaining an ounce of decorum) and eat this in one shot. This will get made. Trust me.

adventuresindinner said...

Ok, it is totally going to look like I'm copying but I made this yesterday and just wrote the post for tomorrow.

LOVE panna cotta. I put chocolate on the bottom of mine.

Alyson said...

Linds - I seriously think it's the finest dessert I've created to date. The draining step of the yogurt is the key to the whole puzzle. So. SMOOTH.

Adventures - Great minds think alike! I made these on Sunday, and then Monday for vegan night, my friend emailed me that afternoon to say that she was bringing the ingredients to make cherry panna cotta (vegan style, of course), so we had a different variation last night! There's room in the world for all sorts of panna cottas out there.

Locavore Family said...

Ok, lame question, but cherry juice. Did you buy the juice or extract the juice from cherries? Getting my game plan for tomorrow's shopping trip.

Alyson said...

I just smooshed up some cherries. They were there and super juicy. You could totally buy the stuff though.

Alyson said...

Oh, and I was actually just shy of ½ cup, so I topped it up with raspberry juice. Gotta use what you've got!

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