Peppermint Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta.  An elegant dessert that is quite easy to make at home!

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Peppermint Panna Cotta

Yields:  4 servings

Total Time:  4 hrs. 30 min

Prep Time:  30 min

Chill Time:  4 hrs.

 

Panna Cotta Ingredients

  • 1 oz. milk
  • 1 ¼ tsp powdered gelatin (½ packet)
  • 16 oz. heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 2 oz. granulated sugar (approximately ¼ cup)
  • ¼ tsp. peppermint extract

 

Topping Ingredients

  • 2 oz. chocolate (dark or semi-sweet), chopped
  • 3 oz. heavy cream
  • 1 oz. crushed peppermint candy

 

Directions

  1. Lightly spray 4 serving vessels with nonstick cooking spray (6 oz. ramekins or mugs work well).  Wipe out any excess spray with a paper towel.
  2. Place the milk in a large bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top.
  3. Combine the heavy cream (or half-and-half) and sugar in a saucepan over low heat.  Bring just to a simmer, stirring frequently.  Remove from the heat and stir in the peppermint extract.
  4. Pour the hot cream into the gelatin mixture, stirring constantly.
  5. Pour 4.5 oz. into each of the prepared serving containers, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator.  Chill until set, at least 4 hours.
  6. Before serving, prepare the chocolate topping.  Heat the heavy cream until it has just reached a simmer.  Add the chopped chocolate and allow to sit for 2 minutes.  Whisk until combined.
  7. If desired, unmold the panna cotta onto plates (run a sharp knife just along the edge and dip the bottom of the ramekin/mug into hot water).  Serve with the chocolate ganache and peppermint candy.

Panna cotta is a traditional Italian dessert that means “cooked cream.”  It is very similar to custard/pudding; the main difference is that panna cotta is thickened with gelatin rather than egg yolks or cornstarch.

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Panna cotta is a very versatile dessert.  It can be paired with most any flavor and is especially delightful with fresh fruit.  In a last-ditch effort to use up candy canes from Christmas, I decided to create a peppermint version.

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The ingredients for the panna cotta include:  milk, powdered gelatin, heavy cream (or half-and-half), granulated sugar, and peppermint extract.

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First up – prepare the serving vessels.  There are two serving options for panna cotta.  You can either unmold them or serve them straight out of a bowl.  If you are planning on unmolding them, spray the vessels with nonstick cooking spray.  I usually just use a mug, but a 6 oz. ramekin would work very nicely indeed.

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Place the milk in a bowl (or glass measuring cup) and sprinkle the gelatin over the top.

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Allow this to set and bloom while we prepare the cream.

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Place the granulated sugar in a saucepan.

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Then add the heavy cream or half-and-half.  Both are equally great options and will set up just fine.  I almost always have heavy cream on hand, so I usually go with that… but sometimes I want a slightly “lighter” option and go with half-and-half.  (You can also use just plain old milk, just double the amount of gelatin.)

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Bring this just to a simmer over low heat.  Make sure you stir this frequently to avoid scorched panna cotta.

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Stir in the peppermint extract and pour into the gelatin mixture, stirring constantly.  Make sure you are using peppermint, not mint extract – the latter tastes like toothpaste.

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Pour this into your serving vessels of choice (about 4.5 oz. liquid in each).  I’ve started making this in a 2 cup measuring cup, so I can use the handy spout for pouring… that way I don’t make a huge mess 😉

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Cover these little guys with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

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Chill until they are set – at least 4 hours.  These will keep for a few days, so they are great option to make in advance.

Right before serving, prepare the delicious topping.  It’s super simple – just heavy cream, chocolate, and crushed peppermint candy (aka leftover candy canes).

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Heat up the heavy cream until it is just beginning to simmer.

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Add the chopped chocolate and allow it to sit for a couple of minutes.

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Then whisk together until well combined and smooth.

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If you are not unmolding the panna cotta, just layer on some chocolate sauce and peppermint candy.

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If you are unmolding, run a sharp knife just along the edge.  You don’t have to go down very far; this is just to loosen its grip.

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You can try to unmold it now – if it gives you trouble dip the bottom of the container in hot water.

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Flip this onto a plate…

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and top with the chocolate sauce and candy.

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Grab a spoon and dig in!  A very pretty dessert that is easy to make at home.

 

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