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Baking and pastry normally isn’t my cup of tea, but when it comes to easy, fool-proof desserts like this delicious maple and vanilla panna cotta, I don’t mind at all. I found this delicious recipe in a new cookbook I was given and with a few, minor tweaks, I made it something I can call mine. This was the first time making panna cotta and it won’t be the last.

Panna cotta is an Italian dessert which means “cooked cream” and it is basically a pudding made with cream, sugar, and gelatin which can be flavored any way you like. In this case, I flavored my panna cotta with maple, vanilla, and a little bit of almond extract. It definitely has the smooth, creamy, silky texture I was expecting. Panna cotta is so super simple to make because it doesn’t require much prep, ingredients, or energy. Also, panna cotta is a very elegant-looking dessert; therefore, when you serve it, your guests will think you put so much time and effort into it. I want to have a dinner party just so I can serve this as the dessert course.

For this recipe you will need:

1 cup whole milk
1 packet of gelatin
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 whole vanilla bean, Β split lengthwise
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup dried banana chips
Pink Himalayan salt, garnish (optional)
Fresh mint leaves, garnish (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, heavy cream, and maple syrup- whisk together. Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and allow for it to “bloom,” about 2 minutes. The gelatin grains will swell and appear as if they have absorbed liquid. Over medium heat, whisk the gelatin into the milk mixture and bring to a low simmer. DO NOT allow the milk mixture to come to a boil. Reduce the heat so the milk is steaming, but not bubbling. Check to make sure the gelatin has completely dissolved. (Rub the milk mixture between your fingers to check for grittiness.) Scrape the vanilla bean’s seeds into the milk mixture and add the entire vanilla bean, as well. Add the almond extract. Whisk to combine. Steep until the vanilla pod has softened and wilted. Remove the pot from the heat; retrieve the pod and discard it.

Next, stir in the kosher salt and pour the panna cotta mix into three small ramekins, about halfway up each ramekin. You can also pour the panna cotta into parfait or wine glasses- whichever you like. Let cool to room temperature and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the panna cotta for at least 6 hours or overnight until fully set.

*Dairy-free tip: Β if you would rather a dairy-free panna cotta, you may substitute almond, coconut, or soy milk and a non-dairy creamer instead. The gelatin isn’t picky when it comes to which liquid it is swimming in.

In a small saucepan over medium low heat, combine the remaining 1/4 cup maple syrup, slivered almonds, and dried banana chips and toss to candy, 2-4 minutes. Remove from the heat. To serve the panna cotta, run a knife around the top part of the pannacotta and then dip the ramekin in a bowl filled with hot water to loosen the pannacotta from the ramekin. Place a plate on top of the ramekin and flip over. If the pannacotta won’t budge, simply place in the hot water for another 30-60 seconds and try again.

Once the pannacotta is successfully out of the ramekin and onto a plate, top with the candied slivered almonds and banana chips, mint leaves, and a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt. The smooth texture of the pannacotta along with the crunchy, sticky almonds and banana chips is like no other. Plus, the cold pannacotta and the warm maple syrup sauce will take your taste buds on a roller coaster. It really is crazy how different textures, temperatures, and flavors balance each other so well! I hope this easy dessert recipe brings you to your happy place because it definitely did for me. Bon Appetit!

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