Healthy Maple Bourbon Panna Cotta with Strawberry Jam & Black Pepper
Happy Mother’s Day!
I’m being totally selfish and sharing with you what *I* would love for Mother’s Day: cool, creamy, sweet panna cotta. It is absolutely one of my Top 5 favorite desserts as evidenced by how many recipes I’ve shared with you here over the years. I appreciate that you can control the sweetness without compromising the end results (unlike when baking a cake) and I also appreciate how easy it is to 1) make, and 2) add a healthy twist. (Friends who are on the autoimmune protocol or don’t eat dairy, I have you covered with a similar coconut milk version, check it out.)
I’ll add that panna cotta for brunch topped with granola and fresh fruit is BOMB. Especially this version, which has the tangy freshness of kefir/yogurt. So if Mother’s Day is all about brunch for you, spoon this into pretty, clear bowls or cups, and set on a buffet for an upgraded parfait situation.
My son Nathan is coming home from college this weekend and that’s about the best Mother’s Day present imaginable, right? He will not be making me panna cotta – he will be sleeping half the day recovering from finals – but he would happily eat panna cotta if I made it. And that would make me very happy. For me, and I suspect for almost all moms, half the fun of being a mother is feeding your child nourishing food that they love.
It brings tears to my eyes to even think of it. Am I weird? Probably.
However you celebrate (or not) have a lovely spring weekend. It is green green green here in Minneapolis and that means it’s green everywhere. ‘Tis the season for walks and bike rides and grilling and sunroofs and just sitting in a patch of sunlight. I’ll be celebrating with Nathan, and I’ll also be thinking about the two babies I miscarried in 2003/2004. I’ll be laughing with my mom, and I’ll be thinking about my wonderful grandmothers who are no longer with us. Mothering and daughtering and granddaughtering is bittersweet business, and all of it is amazing.
Note: this post originally ran in August of 2015. I’ve updated the class information below, and hope to see you in August of 2017.
My five year anniversary of going gluten-free is fast approaching. What an adventure it’s been and what a good reminder that sometimes the things that seem so hard provide the very kick in the pants we need to move onward and upward. Going gluten- and grain-free aka paleo changed my health, and then my energy, and then my writing and friendships and life, all for the better.
What a marvelous pain in the ass.
Following the autoimmune protocol for the last year and a half has done the same – more challenge, but also more healing and a whole new set of wonderful friends. I’ve made some tasty and exciting reintroductions lately – high quality dairy for instance, as you can see from this recipe. I’m not much of a dessert person, but panna cotta is my JAM, especially with jam, so when my friend and neighbor Jen Sommerness gifted me a gorgeous jar of homemade strawberry jam, I became pretty instantly frisky for my fave cool creaminess.
(For past examples of my obsession, see Sweet Corn Panna Cotta I, Sweet Corn Panna Cotta II with Bacon & Blue Cheese, Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Berries & Honey, and AIP Coconut Maple Panna Cotta.)
I was excited to play with tangy, fermented kefir as a foil for the sweet jam, plus I liked the idea of kefir’s naturally occurring probiotics making this a healthy-ish treat. Not that I’m opposed to having a non-healthy treat, but if I can sneak in some goodness, I do.
Thinking about food as an opportunity for healing as well as deliciousness is the key to making good choices, I think. It took me a long, long time to make that shift but I’m glad that I have, because the best food is both of those things. The meals I savor the most intensely are both nourishing and divine – you know what I mean? They resonate at a deeper, DNA level, and as such they impart more pleasure. That’s a good connection to make because our most primal selves are pleasure seekers – might as well use pleasure for what it was designed -> to reinforce behaviors that propagate the species.
That makes deeply delicious nutrition our evolutionary jam. See what I did there? Full circle, ha.
These are the things I think about before I share recipes with you, here or in the classes I teach. For proof, come to my Paleo Suppers class at Kitchen in the Market on Friday, August 11, 2017. The class is Paleo Produce Party, so be ready to cook with the bounty of the season and walk away with ideas for eating more vegetables, cooking like a fiend through your CSA box, and putting your farmers market hauls to good use.
Until then, I leave you with this easy panna cotta recipe. If you don’t have homemade strawberry jam, just buy some. Or, hit the farmers market and make and chill a simple strawberry (or other berry or stone fruit) sauce. Don’t skip the black pepper, it adds a lovely note to the tangy, fruity creaminess.
Kefir Maple Bourbon Panna Cotta with Strawberry Jam & Black Pepper
Note: The inverted panna cottas pictured above were chilled in 4-ounce ramekins. If you don’t want to invert them, chill in any pretty cups or glasses or even in one large bowl. Prepare recipe the day before you plan to serve it to allow panna cotta to set properly.
3 teaspoons powdered gelatin (I use grass-fed Great Lakes Brand)
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 cups whole milk kefir
1/4 cup maple syrup (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon bourbon (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Scrapings from one vanilla bean pod
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pour cold cream in a medium saucepan and sprinkle gelatin across the top. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow gelatin to soften.
Place pan over medium heat and heat cream until steaming and gelatin is dissolved, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat.
Stir kefir, maple syrup, bourbon, cardamom, vanilla, and salt into the pan. Divide among ramekins, cups or bowls (see note above). Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
To invert: Run a knife around the edges of the panna cotta. Place a serving plate over ramekin and flip upright. Holding ramekin firmly to plate, gently shake side to side until panna cotta releases.
To serve: Top with a teaspoon of strawberry jam and a few grindings of black pepper.