As the grand finale for my Wish It Were Spring theme lunch, I went with Lemon Panna Cotta for dessert. That was a delicious decision. The smooth custard topped with the lemony curd and candied lemon peel created bursts of spring-time flavor with every bite.
It isn’t hard to make, but does take some time and planning ahead. I prepared everything the day before the gathering, because the Panna Cotta needs to sit for at least eight hours before serving.
- Add in vanilla, stir well and cook for about four minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Sorry, I forgot to take photos of the next step, but you remove from heat, stir in gelatin then add in the milk. Pour into cups or forms and refrigerate, tightly covered with plastic wrap, at least eight hours or overnight.
- I used a silicone pan shaped like a daisy for my mold. Although it is non-stick, I gave it a shot of non-stick spray to make sure I could get it out of the mold when I was ready to serve. Isn’t it pretty?
Put everything in a heavy saucepan and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens.
- Vanilla Panna Cotta
A silky custard, made without egg…
1 3/4oz envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold milk, divided
1 ¾ cups heavy cream
¼ cup granulated sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
Sprinkle gelatin over ¼ cup milk in a small bowl. Stir until moistened. Let stand five minutes (it will be lumpy).
Cook heavy cream, granulated sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for about four minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture, stirring until completely dissolved. Add in remaining ¾ cup milk. Stir in then pour mixture into six 4-ounce dessert glasses or wineglasses. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least eight hours. If you have some forms that are easy to get treats out of, you can pour panna cotta into them. I would recommend silicone or something that is easy to work with.
3 egg yolks
6 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup butter
Roll lemons around on the counter to get the juice flowing. Slice in half and zest one half using a microplane.
Squeeze lemons until you have 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice.
Cook egg yolks, lemon juice, eggs, sugar and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick. Spoon into a bowl or jar, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Candied Lemon Peel
1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tbsp.
You need the peels off approximately two lemons. I used the same lemons from my lemon curd, so for this entire recipe, you would need two lemons. If you don’t want to use the ones you’ve squeezed into oblivion to render the juice, you can get two fresh lemons.
Take a knife and remove the pulp from the peel then carefully cut away all the white pith. This is the bitter part of the lemon and you want it all gone.
Slice the peel into thin ribbons and add to a saucepan with one cup of cold water. Bring to a boil, drain, and repeat.
After you have drained the lemon peel for the second time, add another cup of cold water and 1/2 cup sugar to the peels in the saucepan and bring to boil. Continue simmering until the peels are translucent and soft. (I let mine go about twenty minutes. It is better to overcook than undercook.)
Remove from heat and drain then let dry on a paper towel. When dry, dip each lemon ribbon in a small dish with sugar, coating thoroughly. Store in an air-tight container until ready to use. These are so, so yummy!
To serve the Lemon Panna Cotta, simply add a dollop of curd with a few pieces of Candied Lemon Peel to the Panna Cotta. If you made it in a big mold like I did, cut the Panna Cotta into individual servings before adding the lemon.