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 interesting honeys. 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. —Alice Medrich
low fat milk
envelope (7 grams) gelatin
1 1/2 tablespoons
(I use fine sea salt)
finely ground black pepper (3-4 grinds from a pepper mill set on the finest setting)
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
pretty dessert glasses or martini glasses (we are not unmolding this panna cotta)
Pour the milk into small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface. Let the gelatin soften (without stirring) for at least 5 minutes or until needed.
Meanwhile, put the turmeric into a medium saucepan and stir in a tablespoon of the cream to form a smooth paste. Stir in the remaining cream, salt, pepper, and honey. Stir over medium heat until the honey is dissolved and the mixture is steaming hot—but don’t let it simmer.
Remove the pan from the heat. Add the milk and gelatin and stir well to dissolve the gelatin. Pour the mixture into a bowl and set the bowl into a large bowl of ice and water. Let the mixture cool in the ice bath, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl thoroughly (with a rubber or silicon spatula) from time to time to equalize the temperature and prevent the mix from setting against the cold surface of the bowl. When the mixture has thickened (at about 50° F, but not set, remove the bowl from the ice water. Wipe the bottom of the bowl to avoid dripping water, and pour the mixture into the glasses, dividing it equally. Cover and refrigerate the panna cotta for several hours and as long at 2 days before serving. It will be quite wobbly, just set enough to be thick and luxurious on the tongue.
Use a micro plane grater to grate a little cinnamon and/or nutmeg over each serving.
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).