For someone who overthinks everything, I have a funny habit of doing things on a whim. I tend to do it moreso with travel [of all things!] than with anything else. From my first time flying alone [destination: England] to a recent trip to Vegas, I've simply had someone propose a trip or serendipitously happened upon an opportunity and have thus taken time off, bought tickets and gone without completely working out the details.
Like my many trips, I seemed to stumble upon Abby Dodge's blog by chance after seeing a retweet of someone's #BakeTogether post. Curiosity got the best of me. I followed the hashtag down the rabbit hole and spent the next hour looking through previous posts and reading up on how it all worked. Though I read for an hour, I had decided that I wanted to participate after reading maybe two sentences of the 'how it works' post. Each month, Abby posts a recipe on her site and invites readers of all skill levels and baking abilities to bake together by adapting the recipe and reposting their version on their personal blogs. It's inspiring to see how creative participants can get by interpreting the recipe to incorporate different methods and ingredients. If you'd like to participate, head on over to Abby's blog for more info!
My take on Abby's panna cotta brezza frescas was inspired by a recent catch up with a dear friend from one of my traveling adventures. In 2009, I found myself in a study abroad program in Galway, terribly broke, living in a homestay as the only graduate student with roughly 20 undergrads. I don't do well with group travel, but luckily, I met Claire, who kept me company and kept me sane. Like me, she has a love for baked goods, an obsession with Skippy peanut butter and a deep appreciation for ice cream. So, after returning to the area after being away for a year, I was grateful to have her back and grateful to chat over the world's best ice cream.
I ordered two gelato flavors: plum and local wildflower honey. The plum was so refreshing it tasted better than eating the actual fruit. The honey was spot on in its flavor, almost like eating cold creamy honey, but not nearly as sticky or viscous. It had a lovely flavor but was a bit too much on its own. For this panna cotta, I wanted to mellow out the flavor with mascarpone. [If you couldn't tell by my last post, I'm mad for mascarpone. I love it so much, in fact, that I named my cat after it!] The ginger poached plums were also a whim. I had my mind made up on a plum topping, but wanted to give them some pizzazz. As soon as I opened the cabinets and ginger was staring me in the face and I thought, 'why not?' The spice packs a bit of a punch, but is complemented beautifully by the brown sugar. Amazingly, the pop of ginger doesn't overwhelm the subtlety of the honey mascarpone and the plums add a nice textural contrast to the delicate, jiggly panna cotta.
|Honey Mascarpone Panna Cotta with Brown Sugar-Ginger Poached Plums||
- 4 oz mascarpone, room temperature
- 1 1/2 C whole milk
- 3 T honey
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin
- 1/4 C cold water
- pinch table salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 black plums
- 1/2 C water
- 2 T brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- Make space in the fridge for 4 ramekins or glasses [I always forget about this step!]. If you wish to unmold panna cotta, prepare ramekins by rubbing the insides with a small amount of canola oil.
- Add 1/4 C cold water to a small, heat-proof bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin. Set aside to bloom, approximately 5 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 C water with brown sugar, lemon zest and ginger. Bring to a simmer.
- Add plums. Cover and continue to simmer, 8-10 minutes, then uncover and simmer for another 6-8 minutes until liquid has thickened.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Once gelatin has bloomed, microwave until melted, approximately 30-45 seconds.
- In a blender, combine mascarpone, milk, honey, salt, gelatin and vanilla. Blend until combined 1-2 minutes, making sure mixture is smooth.
- Pour into ramekins or glasses. Refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 2 days in advance.
- Top panna cotta with sliced poached plums and a drizzle of the poached plum reduction.