Some people just aren’t into desserts that are the least bit gelatinous. I am not one of those people–I’m positive that if you made 6-year-old me choose between a cookie and a bowl of suspiciously bright, jiggly, fruity Jell-o cubes, I’d absolutely go for the Jell-o. Bring on the jiggle and get me a Cosby sweater while you’re at it!
I remember making dessert for a get-together my parents were hosting. My grand idea was Jell-o: at least eight flavors (and possibly closer to a dozen), painstakingly layered in clear glasses and topped with Cool Whip. Boil, stir, pour, chill, repeat. If nothing else, it was a great way to keep me occupied for a day (possibly even two), and did I feel like a genius rockstar in the end? You know it.
I was 12-ish. Also, insane.
My story about the Technicolor Dreamcoat Dessert isn’t to say that panna cotta is like Jell-o, because it really isn’t. In fact, it’s safe to assume that most people who eat panna cotta would not guess that it’s thickened with gelatin–panna cotta is just a nice, thick, creamy, cool dessert, and no, it won’t jiggle in a bowl… But grown-up me loves just a touch that texture.
Also, I’m on this hot streak of making not-ice-cream desserts that I had originally envisioned as ice cream. Panna cotta is basically perfect–still cool, still creamy, still providing many opportunities to incorporate at least one more flavor. Bonus: much easier, too.
Pomegranate season is starting. I love, love, love the ruby-bright,fresh, tart thing with the cinnamon-whiskey warming effect thing. It’s perfection.
Two tablespoons of bourbon in two cups of fruit = you can taste the bourbon. I love it, but feel free to tone it down, or skip it altogether, or use brandy or Cointreau instead. You do you!
As for me, I’m basically ready to make every incarnation of the pomegranate-whiskey-cinnamon combo. Cheesecake! Rice Pudding! Pancakes! Ice cream! Crepes and layer cakes, and crepe layer cakes! Can we work this into a cronut?
We’ll get to all that, but meanwhile– and I know this is coming from the former Rainbow Jello Dinner Party Dessert Child–I think you should start with making this panna cotta. It’s the easiest, loveliest thing!
P.S. ALSO. Giveaway winner for Rumiano cheese is Joanne! Non-GMO cheese coming your way, lady. Congratulations!
- 1 cup whole milk, divided
- 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
- 2 cups pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- Combine half of the milk with the cream, sugar and cinnamon in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is simmering. Remove from heat and allow to steep for an hour, covered.
- Fifteen minutes before mixture is finished steeping, pour the rest of the milk into a medium bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin, then let stand until soft, 15 minutes or so.
- Bring the cinnamon mixture back to a simmer and add the gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved. Divide between two individual dishes for large servings, or four for smaller ones, then chill, uncovered, until set (at least 6 hours).
- To make the compote, whisk together sugar and cornstarch, then combine in a medium saucepan with pomegranate and lemon juice. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until thick and bubbly, 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat, stir in bourbon, and chill, covered, until cold.
- Serve panna cotta topped with the compote. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.