A lot of my friends take interest in what dessert I might order at dinner, as if having gone to pastry school has somehow elevated my taste. I’m not sure that it has . . . but I do tend to order things that I know I couldn’t make easily. Notwithstanding, one of my favorite desserts to order is panna cotta, which is actually a very simple dessert. It is an Italian custard, basically a “cooked cream” thickened with gelatin. There is something just so perfect about the velvety smooth, subtly sweet custard with a little bit of wobble. It is a great pairing with so many different flavors, whether fruity or spiced.
This version that I made recently for my own housewarming adds Greek yogurt to the mix, which perhaps makes it less of a true panna cotta, but is still easy and yummy. I added a graham cracker base for texture and flavor, and topped with a pear-apricot puree miroir and some pear compote.
Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta
Makes about four 4″ tarts or 5 oz. cups
- 250 mL heavy cream
- 40 g granulated sugar
- 2 sheets gelatin, bloomed (about half a packet of powdered gelatin)
- 175 g Greek yogurt
- ½ t vanilla extract (or vanilla paste, or a whole vanilla bean)
- Heat half of the cream and all of the sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the bloomed gelatin.
- Whip the remaining cream lightly (no peaks should form).
- Combine the hot cream with the yogurt and stir with a spatula. Let cool.
- Add the lightly whipped cream to the mixture.
- Pour into molds and chill.
- Add optional flavoring on top (I mixed about equal parts Bosc apple puree with apricot nappage).
- Insert cute little spoon and enjoy!
This is a great companion cookie for the Oatmeal Craisin White Chocolate Cookie, and uses a similar recipe, with dried apricots replacing the craisins, and semi-sweet chocolate (chips, and exterior dipping) replacing the white chocolate. The original recipe from Food & Wine uses much higher butter/sugar to flour/oatmeal ratio than the craisin recipe, which makes the cookie spread and get a bit thing. I’ve adapted it to be somewhat closer to the craisin recipe.
Adapted from Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2011:
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 cup dried apricots, cut into ¼-inch dice
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Bake the pecans until lightly toasted (about 8 minutes). Once cooled, chop coarsely.
- Mix the oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
- Using a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until blended. Beat in the dry mixture until just incorporated.
- Fold in the dried apricots, toasted pecans and chocolate chips.
- Drop by rounded tablespoons onto lined cookie sheets (parchment paper or nonstick foil), spaced at least 1-2 inches apart. Bake for about 16 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool and transfer to wire rack.
- Drizzle with or dip in melted semi-sweet chocolate.
These cookies will expand more than the craisins recipe.
These apricot-dark chocolate pound cake cupcakes were inspired by a cakelove recipe, and I was happy to finally put almond extract to good use. The almond flavor in the cake is a nice complement to the bittersweet chocolate, and these were delicious straight out of the oven with the chocolate bits still melted, and the dried apricot bits still soft and moist.
Unfortunately upon cooling, I found that the dried apricot bits became harder than they were to start out with. I might have to try pre-soaking them next time!
Admittedly, I am not a big fan of pound cake texture as it is denser, and with my unreliable oven from the 80s, my pound cakes are prone to ending up a bit dry and overbaked. But, I have found that pound cakes seem to get the most enthusiastic feedback from the office, so I’ll keep working on them!