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Creamy Chai Panna Cotta


Makes 6 small ramekins

Panna Cotta isn’t a dessert that comes to mind often. I’m not sure if it’s the Italian name that makes it seem too involved or too elegant for the average kitchen or if it’s just something that seems like it should be eaten out, at a restaurant, after a special meal. Whatever it is, it should stop! Panna Cotta IS special and it’s also easy to make at home. Easy enough for anyone to bring a little gourmet into their kitchens for a night.

I reached for some panna cotta inspiration mostly because I wanted to cook with gelatin. My culinary experience with thickeners like gelatin were mostly plant based, such as agar. Given all the health benefits of gelatin, I thought I’d give it a go and see how it goes for my family. Don’t worry, I still have and use agar often. It, too, has great health benefits.

If kale is the queen of the organic world, then gelatin seems to be the king of the Paleo-world. Well, I suppose a few super-foods could fit the bill. But, while I don’t subscribe to one particular diet (I know better than that), I also know there is plenty to learn from all these diets and I’m a keen student. To be fair, the Paleo Diet comes closest to traditional eating than any other diet out there.

So, gelatin has numerous health benefits. Here are a few:

  • Supports skin, hair and nail growth

  • Supports joint health

  • Helps make cellulite disappear (maybe)

  • Is a good source of protein

  • Supports digestive health

For more detailed info, click here (Weston A. Price Foundation) and here (Wellness Mama).

I got my inspiration for this one from The Kitchn. One of my cravings lately (for about 2 months now) has been chai…all kinds of variations of chai wherever I can get it! One recipe I’ve enjoyed I found on The Kitchn and then decided to check out their panna cotta recipes. I wasn’t disappointed and I don’t think you will be either.

It’ll take you all of 10 minutes to prepare (+ a few hours of chilling) and you will absolutely surprise and delight whoever is lucky enough to be sitting at your gourmet table. I guarantee it.

You’ll need:

1 1/2 C whole milk

3 teaspoons powdered gelatin

1/4 C coconut sugar 1 1/2 C heavy cream

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 C chai tea (see recipe below) Pinch salt

Ground cinnamon, shaved chocolate, chopped dates, (optional for garnish)

For the chai:

2 C filtered water 5 whole green cardamom pods, crushed 3 thin slices fresh ginger 2 1-inch cinnamon stick 2 piece star anise 1 T loose black tea leaves or 2 tea bags of black tea (English Breakfast would work, but

To make:

1. Make the chai: Boil water and steep spices and tea for 5-10 minutes. I let it steep for at least 10 minutes to get a deeper, more intense flavor. Set aside.

2. Place the milk in a saucepan. Bloom the gelatin by adding it evenly over the milk and let sit for 5 minutes.

3. After 5 minutes, stir well to incorporate all the gelatin, then over low-medium heat, melt the gelatin. You’ll need to whisk often to keep it smooth and free from clumps and to monitor the heat. Don’t let the milk even reach a simmer, it should just be hot. This should take about 3 minutes.

4. Check to see if the gelatin has dissolved by dipping a spoon into the mixture and checking the back of the spoon. You shouldn’t see any grains.

5. Dissolve the sugar for another couple of minutes and when the mixture is all smooth and creamy then remove it from the heat.

6. Add the cream, tea*, and vanilla and a pinch of salt and stir well.

7. Pour creamy mixture into your ramekins (or whatever cute containers you want to eat out of) and place on a tray.

8. Pull a sheet of plastic wrap out, large enough to cover all the ramekins. Keep them close to one another and “wrap” the ramekins in the plastic, just under the rims. This will keep the panna cotta from hardening on top.

9. Chill for 4+ hours or overnight. When ready to serve, top with desired toppings.

10. ENJOY and ENJOY!

*Alternatively, you could put all the spices and tea in a mesh tea ball or sachet and steep it in the milk while it’s heating and you’re stirring.


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Nathalie Curabba

Health-Supportive Chef

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Created by Ana Gavassa. Edible Rainbow Project ©2017