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Lemon Panna Cotta is Perfect Spring Dessert

What could be more spring-like than a lemon dessert?  Panna cotta means “cooked cream” in Italian.  The sweetened, thick cream is the perfect ending to a meal any time of year.  The brightness of lemon makes this version taste light and sunny.  Panna cotta is sometimes called a custard, but a true custard is thickened with egg yolks, not gelatin.  

Panna cotta is a gluten-free dessert.

Lemon adds a bright note to this creamy dessert.

Lemon Panna Cotta with Blackberry Sauce

1 cup whole milk

1 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup crème fraiche

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Lightly oil six custard cups and set aside.  Mix milk and cream in a heavy saucepan.  Bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat, cool slightly, and add vanilla.  Pour lemon juice into a small bowl.  Sprinkle gelatin on top of the juice and let stand about 10 minutes.  Stir sugar and gelatin mixture into milk mixture.  Stir over low heat just until sugar and gelatin dissolve, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in crème fraiche and lemon peel.  Divide among custard cups.  Cover and chill until set, at least six hours.

Sauce

2 cups fresh blackberries

2 tablespoons packed golden brown sugar

2 tablespoons crème de cassis

Puree 2/3 of the blackberries, brown sugar and crème de cassis.  Strain into a medium bowl, extracting as much liquid as possible.  Stir remaining berries into sauce.

To serve, run a small knife around each custard cup.  Place bottoms of cups, one at a time, in a bowl of hot water for 45 seconds.  Place dessert plate on top of custard cup and invert, shaking gently, to turn out the panna cotta.  Serve with sauce.  This recipe make six servings.

Our chef notes that if you cannot find crème fraiche, heat one cup of whipping cream to lukewarm.  Remove from heat and mix in two tablespoons buttermilk.  Cover and let stand in a warm area about 24 hours until slightly thickened.  Chill until ready to use.