Monday, August 17, 2009

Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar, mixing this with gelatin, and letting it cool until set. An Italian phrase which literally means "cooked cream", it generally refers to a creamy, set dessert from the Northern Italian region of Piemonte. It is eaten all over Italy where it is served with wild berries, caramel, chocolate sauce or fruit coulis. It is not known exactly how or when this dessert came to be, but some theories suggest that cream, for which mountainous Northern Italy is famous, was historically eaten plain or sweetened with fruit or hazelnuts. Earlier recipes for the dish used boiled fish bones in place of gelatin; however, sugar, a main ingredient, would not have been widely available as it was an expensive imported commodity. After years this treat evolved into what is now a gelatin dessert, flavored with vanilla and topped with fruit or spices, and served chilled. Similar versions of this dish are also found in Greece and France.
I've been working on a Low Fat version that is easy to make and tastes great.

Panna Cotta
1/3 cup skim milk
1 (.25 ounce) envelope Knox unflavored gelatin
2 1/2 cups Land O' Lakes Fat Free Half & Half
1/3 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Watkins Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla extract

Pour milk into a small bowl, and stir in the gelatin powder. Set aside.

In a saucepan, stir together the Half & Half and sugar, and set over medium heat. Bring to a full boil, watching carefully, heat do not burn.
Pour the gelatin and milk into the cream, stirring until completely dissolved. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and pour into six individual ramekin dishes.
Cool the ramekins uncovered at room temperature. When cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight before serving.

Light creamy, refreshing ending to a summer meal serve with espresso, or after dinner cordial.

I poured my Panna Cotta into a souffle bowl, chilled overnight until set, dusted with Hersey's Cocoa Powder then arranged fresh strawberry slices in a florette.
Imagine adding lemon, orange or lime zest into the hot mixture. Infuse lemon verbena then use some fresh leaves as a garnish..

Living well and eating well do not depend on having a large budget or luxurious caloric intake.

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