Fall in New York City brings the visitors and the dinner guests, the students and the indoor play dates. We all begin to turn more to indoor activities, and our home comes alive with even more activity than in the warmer months. With this healthy parade of guests, we find special dishes that our family can all make together in advance so that we really enjoy ourselves while our friends are around.
One of the phrases that I hear most often these days is, “Mama, can I help?” It usually comes from our four-year-old but has trickled into her two-year-old brother, as well, now. Especially when we cook with little Liev, I like to add an element of the scientific, of the magical into our recipe, as with panna cotta.
Panna cotta, translated “cooked cream” from the Italian, is a white, luscious dessert and a dinner party food, extraordinaire. It magically transforms before your eyes from pure liquid to semi-solid with a little sprinkling of gelatin, and you can make it up to 3 days ahead of time and top it any way you please. This week, since we began to see the pomegranates make their way into the stores, we choose the cheery, antioxidant rich seeds to bejewel our panna cotta.
P.S. Last week, Jane’s Corner View theme was “White”. This panna cotta, though you can garnish it with so many colors and flavors, is a bed of utter creamy whiteness. For me, it is like biting into white’s essence.
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Seeds and Drizzled Honey
*2 T. water
*1 1/2 t. gelatin
*2 c. heavy cream
*1 3/4 c. yogurt, whole milk preferably
*pinch of salt
*1/3 c. honey, or more to taste + more for drizzling
*2 t. vanilla
*1 t. orange flower water
*the seeds of one fresh pomegranate
Measure the water into a small liquid measuring cup. Have your mini-chef sprinkle the gelatin over the water and set it aside for the time being.
While the water sets, whisk together the yogurt, pinch of salt, honey, vanilla, and orange flower water together in a large bowl (a pouring lip is helpful for this recipe) is or very large liquid measure. Set this aside, too.
Pour the cream into a medium saucepan.
Big Person: Bring the cream to a boil over medium heat, whisking a bit. As soon as the cream comes to a boil, remove it from the heat. Have your mini-chef inspect the water-gelatin mixture. What happened? Is it watery any more? What does it feel like?
Now, Big Person, will pour the gelatin mixture into the cream and whisk them together well for a full minute to make certain that they are properly combined. Pour the cream mixture into the yogurt mixture.
Together Again: Whisk the two mixtures together.
Pour the panna cotta into little sake cups or ramekins. Let the cups cool to room temperature. Place the little cups onto a rimmed baking sheet or tray. Cover the whole business with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours or overnight.
When you are ready to serve your panna cotta, take them out of the fridge, sprinkle them with the pomegranate seed and drizzle on a bit more honey.