As it happens sometimes, we received a random box of ingredients, this time thanks to the Farmers to Families program. The box included a variety of items that someone defined as household staples. Included were roasted chicken quarters, hot dogs, potatoes, apples, milk, and yogurt. Jack quickly turned out a delicious soup with the chicken, potatoes, and other veggies we had in our fridge. My challenge was the yogurt. I usually make our own yogurt, so we already had more than enough for our regular menu.
Living in a small village, we often gift extra food amongst our neighbors. For example, if someone gets an extra order of canned pumpkin or tahini (real examples), we share. When that happens, the resulting cooking challenge always strikes me as our own episode of Chopped. We don’t like to let anything go to waste. So the puzzle of the yogurt needed to be attended to right away.
I had just finished re-reading The Tutka Bay Lodge Cookbook and was in the middle of another pastry chef cookbook when the box arrived. I already had Panna Cotta on the brain. I wondered if Panna Cotta could be made with yogurt instead of cream. Panna Cotta is a wonderful gelatinized dessert that can become a delicious canvas for a variety of fruit. The name is derived from Italian and means “cooked cream.” In my experiment, it would be cooked yogurt. So, yes, this is not a true Panna Cotta. My version has the same vanilla bean canvas and the same structure. That’s where the similarity ended.
I tested different dishes and glasses for serving the Panna Cotta including wine glasses and ramekins. I think they all worked beautifully. My breakfast Panna Cotta definitely tasted like a rich vanilla yogurt. But it made for a gorgeous and delicious breakfast presentation – layers of crunchy granola, chewy dried fruit, zippy tart berries, and a drizzle of last summer’s wineberry syrup. The same visual layers can be accomplished in any clear glass if ramekins are not available. With just a bit of chilling time and not too much effort, you too can turn ordinary into extraordinary.
Breakfast Panna Cotta
- 1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin (1 package)
- 3 cups plain yogurt
- 1/2 milk
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- dried fruit
- frozen or fresh berries
- berry syrup
- Place gelatin in a small bowl. Pour a couple of tablespoons of the milk into the gelatin and mix. Let set for about 5 minutes.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the remainder of the milk, yogurt, vanilla and sugar.
- Place about 1/2 cup of the yogurt mixture into a small pot. Warm mixture while stirring constantly.
- Add gelatin mixture to pot.
- Whisk mixture until gelatin is dissolved. Let cool for 5 minutes.
- Pour gelatin mixture back into the original yogurt mixture in the medium bowl. Mix thoroughly.
- Divide the panna cotta into 6 ramekins or glasses.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight in the refrigerator.
- To serve, layer on granola, dried fruit, berries and berry syrup of your choosing.
- Alternatively, run a knife around the edge of the ramekin, dip the ramekin in hot water and unmold onto a serving plate prepared with a bottom layer of granola. Top panna cotta decoratively with remaining ingredients.