Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta
Every vacation Tom falls madly in love with a dessert which he orders the entire trip. Recently, friend Mary made this Lemon Panna Cotta from Ruth Reichl, and we were transported back to our 2008 trip to Italy, where Tom fell madly in love with panna cotta in Venice.
From one of Tom’s trip reports, “On all our travels, it seems I always fall in love with a different dessert item. In the past, I have courted crème brûlée, fallen for flourless cakes, gorged on Gelato, have had apple amore and pined for Panna Cotta. I am fickle when it comes to sweets….”
Ruth’s recipe does not specify which lemon to use, but if you have a choice, use a Meyer lemon. I am fortunate to have an almost never-ending supply of sweet, fragrant Meyer lemons courtesy of our neighbor’s tree that hangs over into our garden.
What’s the difference between a regular lemon and a Meyer? From The Spruce, “Meyer lemons are believed to be a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange. … Meyer lemons taste similar to regular lemons but with a sweeter, more floral taste. They have a lighter dose of acidity and a thin peel and lack the sharp tang and bitterness of a typical lemon.”
I made this recipe a few times, the first time using the original recipe which calls for ½ cup sugar, but it was a tad tart. so I made it again using more sugar, which is what Mary recommended. I agree with Mary, but it’s up to you.
Have patience with the cream and stir it constantly so it doesn’t curdle. After coming to a boil, my panna cotta took about five minutes to thicken slightly. Ruth’s recipe said two minutes. It definitely takes more than two minutes.
I used 8-ounce jelly jars for serving (mostly so I could put the lids on after it had cooled), but you can use any small bowl or ramekin. Caution: If you are pouring into glass or a non-heat proof bowl, let the panna cotta cool for about ten minutes so you don’t crack the glass. I ran the jelly jars under hot water before ladling the panna cotta into them just to be safe.
The recipe says to chill for at least four hours, but mine needed more to set up properly. Probably best to make it the day before and chill overnight. Just cover with plastic wrap after completely cooled.
This recipe is SO EASY! Three simple ingredients, and the panna cotta is ready in about 15 minutes (not counting chilling). Be ready to wow your guests with dessert, OR eat it all on your own (I’ll never tell!).
Great idea for your Easter soiree or anytime you crave a sumptuous, creamy, citrusy dessert.
2 pints whipping cream
3 Meyer lemons, washed and dried
1 cup granulated sugar (original recipe calls for ½ cup see note above)
Gently roll the lemons on the counter to release the juices. Over a small bowl, zest the lemons, being careful not to include any of the white pith (I used a Microplane). Juice the lemons, removing any seeds that may have slipped by, add to the zest and set aside.
Place the serving containers on a platter or small baking sheet so you can easily transport to the refrigerator.
Pour the cream into a heavy-bottomed pot, whisk in the sugar until dissolved. Over medium heat, bring to a boil stirring constantly so it doesn’t curdle. Continue stirring, scraping the spoon across the bottom of the pot until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and, still stirring, add in the lemon juice and zest.
Carefully ladle into ramekins or small bowls and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. If refrigerating overnight, cover with plastic wrap after completely cool.
To serve, garnish with your favorite berries, lemon zest and a sprig of mint or go NAKED!
Recipe lightly adapted from Ruth Reichl, My Kitchen Year 136 Recipes That Saved My Life: A Cookbook