Pink Peppercorn-Yogurt Panna Cotta with Strawberries

May 29th, 2009 by megan · 16 Comments

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Pink Peppercorn-Yogurt Panna Cotta with Strawberries

Pink Peppercorn-Yogurt Panna Cotta with Strawberries

Pink peppercorns are fruity and floral – not at all spicy like black (or even white) peppercorns. That’s because they are actually a kind of rosehip (i.e., fruit from a type of rose bush). I’ve made this pink peppercorn ice cream a few times (it’s amazing with chocolate cake), but I thought that the delicate pink peppercorn flavor would pair well with a delicate fruit like strawberries. It does.

Panna cotta” literally means “cooked cream” in Italian, and you’ll be happy to know that there is very little work to do in the kitchen for panna cotta except to heat up a bit of cream and pour it into ramekins. And seriously, I have no idea why I haven’t thought to make panna cotta for every single dinner party I’ve ever had. It is a) unbelievably easy to make and b) you can make it way ahead of time. Perfect party food.

A few things about ingredients. Try to find grass-fed cream and yogurt. It’s good. Seriously, trust me. Plus, supporting small dairy farmers is something to think about. I had a hard time finding organic gelatin, though. In fact, I couldn’t find any in person anywhere, but have since found a source online here. I’ve also been experimenting with different kinds of sugar, like sugar in the raw and demarara after stupidly discovering that the food co-op that I’ve belonged to for years carries all sorts of fair trade sugars in bulk. Demerara sugar is especially delicious with strawberries.

For the Panna Cotta:

One 1/4 ounce envelope of gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup yogurt (I used low-fat)
2 1/2 tablespoons raw sugar (granulated sugar is OK, too)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons pink peppercorns, lightly crushed

For the Strawberries:
1 pint very fresh, local strawberries, hulled and sliced
1-2 tablespoons demerara sugar (granulated sugar is OK, too)
Splash of orange juice, rum, Grand Marnier, or other liqueur (I used Liquor 43, a Spanish vanilla-flavored liqueur)

Special Equipment: Four 3-ounce ramekins

For the Panna Cotta:

  1. Lightly oil ramekins or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Add the cold water to a medium bowl. Sprinkle gelatin on top and let stand to soften.
  3. In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream, yogurt, sugar, and pink peppercorns.
  4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove pot from heat and let steep for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Return cream mixture to a boil. Using a fine-meshed strainer, quickly strain the mixture into a medium bowl.
  6. Add 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture to the gelatin and whisk until gelatin is fully incorporated.
  7. Add the gelatin-cream mixture to the remaining cream mixture. Stir in vanilla.
  8. Divide the mixture among four ramekins. Let cool for 20-30 minutes, then refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, until set (this will take 2-3 hours).

For the Strawberries:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Using a potato masher or large spoon, very lightly crush the strawberries.
  2. Let sit (at room temperature or refrigerated) until ready to serve.

To Serve:

  1. To unmold panna cotta: very carefully, run a thin, flexible knife around the edge of the ramekin. Dip ramekins (one at a time) into a bowl of hot water. Invert ramekin onto the center of a serving plate and unmold. (You can also give both plate and ramekin one firm shake, holding both at an angle in front of your body. Did that make sense?)
  2. Top panna cotta with strawberries and a bit of the strawberry juices.


katiek @kitchensidecear May 29, 2009 at 5:17 pm

UM…. this is blowing my mind.

I have trying to figure out what to do with this packet of gelatin I have leftover from my pate+gelee.

Good call. I am interested in these pink peppercorns as well. I used white ones yesterday for my nepalese momos and they are STANKY!

Natasha - 5 Star Foodie May 29, 2009 at 6:05 pm

I am definitely intrigued about the pink peppercorn panna cotta. It sounds excellent! This is truly a unique and beautiful creation. Your ingredients are so wonderful too! I will pick up some pink peppercorns tomorrow!

Lara May 29, 2009 at 6:11 pm

I’m with Katie up there…blowing my mind! I use to make panna cotta for a restaurant I worked for, but this combo sounds more than delightful and pure summer bliss! And a good excuse to finally comment on how much I love your blog (esp. the design). Look forward to reading more…

The Duo Dishes May 29, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Classy, classy dessert here! Never had pink peppercorns, but you’ve intrigued us.

Eat It Brooklyn Jun 1, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Gorgeous! Thank you for demystifying Panna Cotta for me. I think I’m actually going to try this one!

gastroanthropologist Jun 2, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Great combination. I love pink peppercorn and love this new way to use it. Would be lovely with some roasted fresh pineapple if you can’t get your hands on strawberries.

megan Jun 2, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Thanks, y’all.
And I’m totally with you, gastroanthropologist, on the pineapple – yum!

The Hungry Mouse Jun 2, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Sigh. This looks just divine! Love, love, love panna cotta. Yum!


sivan harlap Jun 2, 2009 at 10:20 pm

megan, I’m totally gonna try this one! loving the peppercorn and strawberry pairing.. back forty has a delicious fresh market strawberry margarita with black pepper, salt and sugar on the rim. amazing!

sivan harlap Jun 2, 2009 at 10:21 pm

ps, how long will the panna cotta keep in the fridge?

megan Jun 3, 2009 at 7:39 am

It’ll keep for at a day or two – just make sure you put plastic wrap on the surface of the panna cotta so a thick skin doesn’t develop.

Daily Spud Jun 6, 2009 at 8:26 am

I will admit to 2 things here (1) I’ve never made panna cotta (2) I have pink peppercorns in the cupboard but I never actually think of using them. Time for a few changes I think!

megan Jun 8, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Spud, get crackin’ on that panna cotta! It’s my new favorite thing to make cuz it’s so versatile.

Celia Jun 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Hi, this sounds amazing… I love panna cotta. Do you know if there is a vegetarian substitute for the gelatin that would work just as well? Thanks so much for this inspiring recipe!!

megan Jun 9, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Hi Celia – you could definitely use agar agar in this instead of the gelatin. It’s just a bit harder to work with – you’ll have to look up the proportion of agar agar to liquid that you’ll need – it won’t be a one-to-one substitution with the gelatin. Good luck!

megan Jun 9, 2009 at 2:37 pm

oh, and you’ll also have to bring the mixture to a boil with the agar – rather than stir in the hot mixture to the cold gelatin.

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