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I do love a creamy, quivering, perfect panna cotta. I love it plain—or with a little saucy crushed fruit or berry compote as I often enjoyed it in Italy. I love it made with buttermilk too.
Even though plain is perfect, panna cotta is an exquisite medium for flavors. Over the years, I’ve made swoon-worthy versions by infusing the cream with jasmine tea or cacao nibs or saffron and cardamom or an interesting honey. Now, it’s totally time for turmeric!
Golden milk—turmeric and honey blended into hot milk (dairy or otherwise) with a little black pepper—translates effortlessly into this Western dessert. Although I was inspired by the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, I hesitate to make health claims for the resulting dessert. When I make a new chocolate dessert, I never mention the antioxidants in the chocolate as I proceed to blend said chocolate with oodles of butter or cream and sugar! This is dessert, people. Let it be decadent and a little bit naughty. Let it be the occasional reward for eating well and exercising.
I found that the translation of golden milk into dessert required more restraint with the turmeric and pepper than you might exercise when making a tonic cup of golden milk. At first—I admit trying to push the health theme—I was intent on using as much turmeric as possible. I also tried versions more akin to turmeric tea, with black tea, cardamom, and ginger. All tasted muddy, or too strong, or as though they really wanted to be some kind of curry. In the end, I focused only on creating a successful dessert—retreating to a gentle balance of turmeric and honey with a whisper of black pepper. Let’s call any incidental health benefits a happy bonus.
- 1 cup low fat milk
- 1 envelope (7 grams) gelatin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric
- 3 cups cream
- 1/8 teaspoon (I use fine sea salt)
- 1/16 teaspoon finely ground black pepper (3-4 grinds from a pepper mill set on the finest setting)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) honey (orange blossom, clover or wildflower rather than a strong or dark honey or woody flavored honey)
- A cinnamon stick, optional for grating
- A whole (or piece of) nutmeg, option for grating
- 8 pretty dessert glasses or martini glasses (we are not unmolding this panna cotta)