Sunday, February 16, 2020

A Perfect Spring Dessert: No-Stress Lemon Panna Cotta with Honey-Balsamic Berries #lemon #berries #dessert #nobake #springflavor #pannacotta

It's still chilly outside -- even here in Texas -- but Spring is just over the horizon. That means it's time to start thinking about Springtime flavors! One of my favorite warm-weather flavors is lemon, so I'm always looking for lemon desserts that are healthy...but pack a nice balance of sweet and tart. I've always loved creamy panna cotta, but I get that making it at home can be a little intimidating. However, I'm here to show you that panna cotta can be a total snap to make! 

My No-Stress Lemon Panna Cotta with Honey-Balsamic Berries recipe will take away any doubts you have about making this classic dessert. Because it's chilled and served in a martini or wine glass, there's ZERO stress associated with unmolding traditional panna cotta! This is my personal spin on a Barefoot Contessa recipe. It starts with a base of lemon Greek yogurt, and the end result is light and creamy. The incredible seasonal berry topping is flavored with sweet honey and tangy balsamic. This jewel-like berry topping takes this dessert straight over the top!
No-Stress Lemon Panna Cotta 
with Honey-Balsamic Berries
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa
Ingredients (makes four servings):
  • One envelope unflavored gelatine + 3 tbs. ice-cold water
  • 8-ounce container lemon Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste OR beans from one vanilla pod
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Zest and juice from half of a large lemon
For the berry topping:
  • 2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 tbs. honey
  • 1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste OR good-quality vanilla
  • Zest of half a lemon
Step 1:  Add the envelope of gelatine and cold water to a small bowl. Stir well to combine and set aside to solify. Add the lemon Greek yogurt, heavy cream, and vanilla bean paste (or beans from a vanilla pod) to a mixing bowl. Whisk well to completely combine and set aside.
Step 2:  Add milk, sugar, and lemon zest and juice to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then add the reserved softened gelatin. Whisk until the gelatin completely dissolves. Pour the warm cream mixture into the yogurt mixture in the mixing bowl; whisk to combine. Ladle the warm cream mixture into four martini or wine glasses. Refrigerate uncovered until chilled and firm -- about 2 hours. Once the panna cottas are chilled, cover each glass with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 6 additional hours before serving -- up to overnight. 
Step 3:  Make the berry topping. Add the strawberries, blueberries, balsamic vinegar, honey, vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract, sugar, and lemon zest to a bowl. Stir well to combine. To ensure the flavors combine nicely, I recommend making the berry topping 2-3 hours before you plan to serve the panna cotta...then let the berries macerate in the fridge.
Step 4: To serve, top each panna cotta with a quarter of the macerated berries and some of the flavorful juice that collects in the bottom of the bowl. As you can see, this panna cotta is a sight to behold! You can see flecks of vanilla beans in the creamy layer...and the colorful berries on top are jewel-like. 
This is a great dessert to have in your culinary bag of tricks: less than 30 minutes to prep, can be made up to 24 hours in advance since it needs to refrigerate before serving, TONS of flavor, and very pretty. Even if it's not quite Spring yet where you are? One bite of this lemony panna cotta will at least make it feel like Spring! Even better? Now that you have this streamlined panna cotta technique down, this recipe is infinitely flexible. Have fun experimenting with different combinations of yogurt flavors and fruits!

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