Panna cotta is one of the easiest, most impressive desserts you’ll ever come across. You can make it a day ahead of time and stash it away in the fridge, and then pull it out at the perfect moment to wow your guests.
This version starts with a simple, sensuous base: creamy and dreamy with just a hint of vanilla, and then gets topped with a sassy Meyer lemon and black-pepper marmalade.
In a dessert?
Hear me out.
It’s exotic. Unexpected. But in no way overpowering. There is no mistaking this as dessert, through and through. The unique flavor of the Meyer lemon mingles with the flecks of pepper in a sweet marmalade topping that you’ll simply adore. And don’t worry, this recipe makes more than enough marmalade, so your muffin the next morning will get plenty of marma-love.
Panna Cotta with Meyer Lemon Black-Pepper Marmalade
For Panna Cotta:
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands Pure Vanilla Extract
- 3 Meyer lemons*
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground Spice Islands Tellicherry Black Peppercorns
*Meyer lemons are essentially a hybrid of regular lemons and tangerines, evident in their dark-yellow skins. In season from November to March, they have a fantastic sweet-and-sour flavor. If you can’t find them, regular lemons will work, although you may want to increase the sugar to make up for the extra tartness.
- In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water; let sit until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Heat milk, cream and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture just starts to steam (do not let it boil).
- Stir gelatin into warm milk mixture until dissolved. Stir in vanilla. Pour into 4 6-ounce or 6 4-ounce ramekins or serving dishes; chill uncovered until set, at least 4 hours.
- To prepare marmalade, zest the lemons using a 5-holed lemon zester (http://www.amazon.com/OXO-Good-Grips-Lemon-Zester/dp/B00004OCJO) to create fine ribbons of peel. Alternatively, you can also remove large pieces of the peel with a vegetable peeler and then very finely slice into strips. These strips will remain intact in the final marmalade, so you want them to be as paper thin as possible.
- Juice the zested lemons (you should have about 1/3 cup juice) and combine with zest and sugar in a heavy, small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil for 5 to 10 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly and reaches 220ºF. Remove from heat and transfer to a 6- or 8-ounce, lidded glass jar. Refrigerate at least 2 hours until completely cooled and thickened, or until ready to use (marmalade will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 2 weeks).
- To serve, place a dollop of marmalade on top of each panna cotta and enjoy.