Friday, August 13, 2010

Summer desserts/Yogurt panna cotta with blueberries and Banana nut bread

Yes, it's lopsided. I made this for Neeta and I. Since panna cotta is traditionally served with fruit, I decided to add in the fruit (blueberries) with the pudding. Well, they take up a lot of room so the ramekins I would normally use to mold this delicious pudding were too small. Instead, I used larger cups which when de-molded caused the panna cotta to tilt slightly. If you would like to try it, I suggest you make it in ramekins and serve fruit on the side the way it is traditionally done unless you want to experiment like me. Panna cotta is a delicious custard like dessert made normally with heavy cream. Somewhere in my reading, I learned that Greek Yogurt could be substituted for some of the cream in the recipe. Armed with this idea but unable to find the original recipe, I decided to adapt a recipe I had used before from Cook's Illustrated magazine (my go to source for anything I haven't done before). The original recipe calls for a cup of whole milk, 3 cups of heavy cream and 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Because I was using 2 cups of 2% Greek Yogurt instead of heavy cream, I substituted using one cup of half and half with the yogurt, and to make up for the tartness of the yogurt added 2 more tablespoons of sugar. So, the adjusted recipe for this panna cotta is:

1 cup whole milk
2 3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 cup Half and Half
2 cups 2% Greek Yogurt
1 piece vanilla bean slit lengthwise with paring knife
8 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of salt

Pour milk into med sauce pan and sprinkle surface evenly with the gelatin. It's important to let the gelatin hydrate for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, set up an ice water bath with a bowl of ice cubes and water which can fit a smaller bowl big enough to hold 4 cups of liquid . Whisk together the yogurt and half and half and scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the mixture. Also, put the pod in and set it aside.

Because Neeta was intently watching one of her Bollywood movies, I didn't dare ask her to help therefore, I have no pictures of the next steps which require a lot of stirring and taking of temperatures.

Next, heat the milk and gelatin mixture over high heat stirring constantly until gelatin is dissolved and mixture registers about 135 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes. Off heat, add sugar and salt and stir until dissolved , about a minute more.

Stirring constantly, slowly pour yogurt/cream mix into sauce pan with the milk then carefully transfer the mixture to the bowl floating in the ice bath. Stir frequently till mixture reaches the consistency of eggnog and registers a temperature of 50 degrees, about 10 to 12 minutes. Take out the pod and strain the mixture into a large pitcher, then distribute it among 8 ramekins or wine glasses. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate till just set. (about 4 hours) (mixture should wobble when gently shaken).

Serve, panna cotta as is in wine glasses or carefully unmold ramekins by dipping them in hot water for 3-4 seconds then loosening with a wet finger and inverting onto a plate.

Serve with a berry sauce or with sweetened berries and a sprig of mint for company or like I did, add some top of the season blueberries to the panna cotta beforehand. It's a really lovely dessert. Oh,and don't throw out that vanilla bean pod after you strain it out of the mixture. Allow it to dry, then drop it into your sugar bowl for beautifully scented sugar for your coffee.

While I can take credit for adapting the panna cotta recipe, the lovely banana nut bread above was the recipe of my fellow blogger, Gnee who writes the very professional and beautifully photographed, "Singing With Birds".
If you navigate there, you will see why I was inspired to try the recipe, which I can assure you will not disappoint. I used 2 cups of dry toasted pecan pieces and produced 2 loaves of truly delicious quick bread, perfect served as is, or with marscapone or a dollop of whipped cream. Try these desserts. You will really like them.

                        Joe Ambrosino


  1. What a great idea to use yogurt! I find panna cotta to be the perfect dessert for summer, so light and creamy. The recipe I use calls for honey as a sweetner. Another recipe that I can't wait to try. Next week caponata. Have a great weekend Joe!

  2. Panna cotta! Such a classic dessert, yet I've never tried doing it. Thanks for sharing the recipe, I'd love to share this to other readers in Foodista . I hope you don't mind. Just add the panna cotta widget at the end of this post, and it's all set! Thanks, looking forward to your next posts! ;-)

  3. Hi Joe,
    I too have never had panna cotta. I think it is time. Also, thanks for the link to Gnee's blog. It is really beautiful. So is this banana bread made with buttermilk.

  4. Bravo- I serve the yogurt panna cotta with a nice honey-- and pretend I am in Greece!
    I don't have an Italian grandmother- but have been living in Italy since 1984--- am still learning!
    you are so lucky

  5. Panna cotta is hard to beat and the berries make it all the more inviting!