Remember those creamsicles? While ideal for preserving individual portions, they didn’t work too well for my intended purpose: coffee creamer. For some reason, the fats from the cream floated to the top of the coffee, creating an unappetizing glassy layer on the surface and leaving a greasy residue on the lid of my to-go mug. So, I’ve mostly resigned myself to black coffee, with the occasional treat of half-and-half or fresh cream.
Eager to find another use for the cream cubes, I was already considering custard or panna cotta recipes when I came across Cathy Erway’s basil panna cotta in The Art of Eating In (which I finished last night — good book). Erway goes from coupledom to singlehood about half-way into the book, which tells of her 2-year mission to forgo restaurants, take out, food carts, etc.
Turns out, abstaining from restaurants somewhat complicates the typical first dinner-date routine. She has a guy over for dinner and endeavors to create a date-like meal and atmosphere. Apparently, she had fantastic luck inspiring romance, and credits her fresh basil panna cotta. While I didn’t experience this phenomenon, the indulgent dessert did garner appreciative moans.
Panna cotta is a good make-ahead dessert for dinner parties, date nights, pot lucks, etc. And because of the recipe‘s simplicity, you could have fun playing with the flavors. Instead of the basil-infused cream, next time I’d like to try chocolate panna cotta infused with mint.
Beautiful cream from Wagon Creek Creamery; basil from my garden.
You can see how the fat rose to the top of the panna cotta — just like what happened in my coffee, but more appetizing.