Saturday, August 13, 2011

Honey-Lime Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Blackberries

I have a Chef's Tasting tonight and I developed this recipe for it. I was searching for something small, light, and refreshing enough to serve at the end of a 9-course menu, not an easy feat by any stretch. It takes full advantage of the ultra-delicious blackberries that are in full swing right now.

Panna cotta, which means cooked cream in Italian, seems lighter than most custard desserts such as crème caramel or flan because it is usually made from lower fat dairy products and because it contains no eggs. It is set with gelatin. Panna cotta is really a misnomer: the cream is never cooked; it is merely heated to facilitate melting the gelatin.

Honey-Lime Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Blackberries

12 sheets gelatin
2 cups milk
2/3 cup honey
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
2 cups Greek yogurt
zest of two limes
16 4-ounce custard molds
blackberries, honey, and lime juice for garnish

I have to say that I love sheet gelatin and I despise powdered gelatin. Once you've seen how easy sheet gelatin is to work with, you'll never go back. I use Gelita Silver; it works every time. If you use powdered gelatin, you'll have to figure out the conversion. I think it is four sheets to the standard gelatin packet.

Cover the gelatin sheets in cold water and let them soften, about ten minutes will do. I never time it because by the time I have everything else assembled, the gelatin is ready to use.

Mix the honey and milk in a pan and warm it. It does not have to be super hot to melt the gelatin. Meanwhile, mix the cream, sour cream, yogurt, and lime zest in a bowl.

Squeeze the excess water out of the gelatin and stir into the warm milk. It should melt immediately. Let the milk cool for a few minutes.

Pour the milk-gelatin mixture into the yogurt mixture and stir well, but try to avoid introducing air bubbles to the mixture.

Spray the custard molds (I use disposable aluminum ones) with pan spray. Fill the molds and transfer to a refrigerator until set, about 4 hours should do.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the mold and invert on a plate. If this doesn't do the trick, warm the panna cotta in a water bath for a few seconds and it should slide right out. Top with fresh blackberries mixed with honey and a squeeze of lime juice.

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