Even with the extra step of steeping lavender though, this light, eggless pudding may be the easiest dessert we know. So little work - so much benefit! Panna cotta is a light creamy pudding that is made with gelatin (or agar agar, if you are vegetarian). It has no eggs, and just a touch of thickening and sweetener. It's incredibly delicate and cool. It's also very elegant. You can serve it from big bowls, or let it set in individual ramekins, or turn out the little cups into standalone molded puddings.
And again, we can't say it enough - when we have company in the summer, this is our go-to dessert. It takes ten minutes (or less) to make. It sits in the fridge and emerges, cool and beautiful, when dinner is finished. No muss and no fuss. Panna cotta - we love you!
Honey Lavender Panna Cotta
1/2 0.25-ounce package of powdered gelatin, about 1 1/2 teaspoons
2 tablespoons cold water
1 cup half and half or cream
1/4 cup wildflower honey
1 teaspoon dried lavender
1 cup milk
Strawberries or other berries, to serve
In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the 2 tablespoons of water and let soften for at least 5 minutes. Lightly oil 4 5-ounce ramekins with baking spray or flavorless oil. Set aside.
In a small sauce pan heat the cream, honey, and dried lavender to a light simmer then turn off the heat. Whisk to incorporate all the honey evenly, then strain into a mixing bowl. Whisk in the gelatin. Whisk for at least a minute to make sure it is very evenly distributed and that no lumps remain. Whisk in the milk.
Pour into the ramekins, and put in the fridge to set. The panna cotta will need at least 2 hours to set; we prefer to wait at least 4, especially if the puddings will be unmolded.
To unmold lightly run a knife around the edge of the chilled pudding and invert onto a chilled plate. Garnish with sliced strawberries and serve.
(Image: Faith Hopler)