I am making Thanksgiving dinner in tandem with Emma this year, and since we're working on the meal together, we have the luxury and time to make a few extra little things. This year, I was inspired by these tiny pie dishes I found at Crate & Barrel. What about an amuse-bouche, I thought — a small, whimsical bite with a traditional Thanksgiving flavor to start off the meal.
I decided to try a little savory panna cotta — a silky bite of tangy goat cheese and herbs, topped with a cut-out shape of cranberry jelly — from the can! (That jellied stuff is splendidly suited to making cut-outs.) They tasted wonderful — the rich, creamy goat cheese with herbs pairs perfectly with sweet and tangy cranberry jelly.
Now, these things sound difficult, but they are actually ridiculously easy. I mean, ridiculously. And they look absolutely adorable! You could do them in larger sizes for a true starter or appetizer, too. I made them in mini-muffin cups, so that they would fit in the tiny pie plates. They fit perfectly.
I'm already thinking about next year. Turkey aspic, perhaps?
Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Canned Cranberry Jelly Cut-Outs
makes about 24 bite-sized pieces
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup cream
1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt
1/4 cup finely-minced chives, plus extra to garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 can cranberry jelly
Chop or crumble the goat cheese finely into a bowl and set aside. Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup water in a separate bowl and set aside. Lightly grease the cups of a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with baking spray or vegetable oil.
Warm the cream over medium-high heat until small bubbles form around the edges. Stir in the goat cheese and keep stirring until it melts into the cream. Turn off the heat and add the softened gelatin. Whisk vigorously until the gelatin and any remaining bits of goat cheese are thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the yogurt and the chives. Taste season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the warm cream mixture to a glass measuring cup and carefully fill each well of the prepared mini-muffin pan. Refrigerate for four hours, or overnight.
When ready to serve, open the cranberry jelly. Release the entire cylinder of cranberry jelly by running a thin knife around the inside of the can. Slice the jelly into 1/4-inch thick slices, and use small cookie cutters or a narrow shot glass to cut out shapes.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Run hot water over the bottom of the mini-muffin pan, briefly. Unmold the panna cotta by flipping the warmed pan over the baking sheet.
Top each panna cotta with a slice of cranberry jelly and garnish with minced chives.
(Images: Faith Durand)