Almond Milk Panna Cotta with Roasted Apricots

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve probably noticed a whole lot of neologism going on. Well, it’s genetic.

Please join me in cordially welcoming the newest addition to the Bendit-Shtull lexicon, coined by none other than Mr. Michael J. Bendit:

Mannicotta
n
A two course Italian meal consisting of manicotti, followed by panna cotta for dessert.

You thought for a second there that I actually cooked up something as decidedly savory as manicotta, didntcha?  This particular neologism was actually an accident. I didn’t make any manicotta. Sorry folks.

I did, however, make panna cotta!

I’ve been wanting to make panna cotta ever since I saw this mouth-watering Peanut Panna Cotta (topped with concord grape sauce, chocolate crumbs, and toasted peanuts!) on the Sugar Philly Truck’s website. They don’t post recipes, so I paid a visit to Helene of Tartelette, who makes beautiful custards and creams. She had two panna cotta recipes that caught my eye: one for Red Berry Almond Milk Panna Cotta, and another for Roasted Apricot and Lavender Panna Cotta. Those combinations didn’t hit the spot for me, so I decided to do a culimanteau—that is, a culinary version of a portmanteau.

I’m took the best of both worlds—the Almond Milk Panna Cotta and the Roasted Apricot—and united them in one very classy dessert.

I halved ripe apricots, sprinkled them with sugar, and roasted them until the pan was covered in caramelized apricot syrup. I pureed the roasted fruit and poured it in into six crystal bowls. I was worried about putting the crystal in the freezer, but it turns out crystal can be frozen (as long as you don’t fill the ice-cold dish with hot liquid, so let your panna cotta cool!) The reason for freezing the dishes of apricot puree is purely aesthetic; when the cooled panna cotta is poured into the bowls, the two layers won’t leak into each other.

I used bowls, but you can use any type of dish. I think glass is perfect to show off layered desserts, and there’s no baking involved so you don’t need to have special Pyrex cups. I love the cute little jars that Tartelette uses, so I’ve started collecting empty jelly jars for my next foray into panna cotta land.

The almond milk panna cotta is delicious, but it has a very delicate flavor that is easily overwhelmed by the roasted apricot. If I made it again, I would use less roasted apricot and pour a thicker layer of panna cotta. The chopped pistachios on top added a nice crush, but they got a little soggy in the fridge (Pistachios get soggy? Who knew?), so make sure you sprinkle them on just before serving.

Almond Milk Panna Cotta with Roasted Apricot
Adapted from Tartelette

Makes 4-6 servings, depending on whom you’re serving.

Ingredients

6 apricots
¼ cup of sugar

1 cup almond milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin (less than one envelope)
2 tablespoons water

1/3 cup pistachios for garnish
1 or 2 more apricots for garnish

Directions

Put 2 tablespoons of water in a small power. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin over the water, mix it a little with a fork, and let it sit while you make the roasted apricots.

Preheat the oven to 350. Halve the six apricots, take out the pits, and place them on a sheet pan sunny side up (that is, inside of the apricot face up). Sprinkled them with ¼ cup sugar, and roast them for 30-40 minutes until they are caramelized and very soft (you should be able to easily pierce them with a fork).  Let the apricots cool, and then puree them in a blender or food processor. Scrape the caramelized apricot syrup off the sheet pan. Eat it.

Divide the apricot puree among your 4-6 bowls/ramekins/cups/jelly jars and put them in the freezer. Meanwhile, start on the panna cotta.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the almond milk, heavy cream, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then strain it through a sieve to get rid of those weird milky skins that form. Heat the gelatin in the microwave for 8 seconds (you want it to return to liquid form) and mix it into the cream mixture. Let the mixture cool to lukewarm. If you’re using glass or crystal bowl, you seriously don’t want to skimp on cooling time.

Pour the cooled panna cotta over the layer of apricot puree, and refrigerate for at least three hours to let the gelatin set.

Garnish with chopped pistachios and sliced apricots, admire your handiwork, and serve.

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