Tastebud: Panna Cotta

panna cotta
Hailing from the Northern Italian regions of Val d’Aosta and Piedmont, classic panna cotta is a combination of sugar and cream or milk (or both!). True to its name (which is Italian for “cooked cream”), the dessert is made by heating the ivory base, adding gelatin (we prefer sheets over powder for the satiny texture they produce), pouring the mixture into round containers to set, and releasing the jelled result. Panna cotta pulls off a miraculous texture that’s both effortlessly light and mouth-caressingly rich.

In Gastronomy of Italy, Anna del Conte writes that while the dessert is occasionally flavored with peach eau-de-vie or paired with fresh fruit, the traditional, unadulterated version prevails throughout the boot. But Beard House chefs have broken the panna cotta mold: Dean James Max

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Recipe: Chamomile Panna Cotta

chamomile panna cotta This innocent dessert from Tiffany MacIsaac (who oversees sweets at Washington D.C.'s Birch & Barley) was one of our favorite bites at last year's Chefs & Champagne. The panna cotta is inflused with the stems and daisy-like blooms of chamomile, which has recently started showing up in bunches at farmers' markets. MacIsaac's souped-up version (pictured above) enlisted pecan granola, apricot foam, and blueberry compote—a tasty lesson in textural contrast. But the creamy and floral foundation is wonderful alone, and adds a romantic touch to an unfussy summer meal.

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