Honey and Yogurt Panna Cotta
My favorite Greek dessert, even more than the decadently honey-and-nut filled pastries like baklava, is fresh strained yogurt topped with a layer of flavorful honey. This dessert takes these quintessential flavors of Greece and brings them across the Mediterranean to make a classic Italian treat even more sublime.
Total Timea day or more
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionFormal Dinner Party
Dietary Considerationgluten-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian
Taste and Texturecreamy, sweet
Type of Dishdessert
- 32-ounce container of plain whole milk yogurt
- 1 cup (8 ounces) creme fraiche
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 2/3 cup cream
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 3 egg whites
- Unmolded: Twelve 3- to 5-ounce ramekins or eighteen 2-ounce disposable ketchup or salad dressing cups
- Molded: 10 to 12 small bowl or glasses or a large decorative serving dish that can hold 36 ounces of custard
- 18-inch-square piece of cheesecloth or a thin dishtowel
- Fine-mesh strainer
8 to 24 hours ahead of time: Strain the yogurt:
Drape a piece of cheesecloth or thin towel inside a strainer or colander. Place the colander over a bowl so that the strainer is suspended and does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Scrape the yogurt into the cheesecloth. Wrap the edges of the cloth around the yogurt and refrigerate it for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. The yogurt will lose half its volume and a greenish water will collect at the bottom of the bowl.
Combine the yogurt, crème fraîche, and honey:
With a rubber spatula, scrape the strained yogurt into a stainless-steel bowl. Add the crème fraîche and honey and whisk until the ingredients come together. Set aside at room temperature.
Bloom the gelatin:
In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over 2½ tablespoons of water and set aside for 10 minutes. The gelatin will soak up all the water and expand into a gummy paste.
Make the egg white custard (see the Note on cooking a stirred custard and testing for doneness):
In a small heavy saucepan, combine the milk, cream, and ½ cup of the sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer.
In a small bowl whisk together the remaining ¼ cup sugar, salt, and egg whites. Slowly, using a ladle, whisk some of the hot milk into the egg white mixture to warm it. Gradually pour the warmed egg white mixture into the hot milk, whisking constantly as you pour.
Cook the custard over medium heat, stirring continuously and scraping the bottom with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat and add about ½ cup of the cooked custard to the the gelatin and whisk until the gelatin dissolves. Add this small amount of custard back to the remaining custard and whisk the two together. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer. Chill the custard over an ice bath until it comes to room temperature.
Once the custard has cooled off, whisk in the yogurt and crème fraîche until thoroughly combined and smooth.
Pour the custard into the molds:
Pour the custard into your desired molds or dishes and tap them on the counter so that the custard settles and flattens on top. Refrigerate the custards for at least 2 hours or for up to 2 days before serving.
Unmold the custard:
If you set the custard in a serving dish or dishes, disregard these directions. Remove the custards from the refrigerator. Dip a paring knife in hot water and run it around the edge of the custard, hugging the side of the mold as much as possible. Turn the mold upside down over a serving plate and allow the custard to invert slowly.
These custards can be served with a crisp wafer or cookie or some fresh seasonal fruit (raspberries, blueberries, figs, melon, peaches, pineapple, or strawberries). Many of the fruit preparations in this book work beautifully also. My favorite is the Rhubarb Consommè.
2006 Kate Zuckerman