This easy panna cotta recipe with bourbon-poached figs will make you swoon. Lightened up just a bit, this vanilla panna cotta is still decadent and delicious, but with just a few less calories.
Whenever I see figs, I must buy them. I can’t quite help myself, they are just so sexy. Then my brain starts spinning with all the possible things to do with them. When I am visiting my family in Ohio, I always try to make something special. Something that I know for sure they have never had before. Sometimes it goes over well and sometimes, maybe not so much. I think this one was a winner.
Panna Cotta with Figs
I was wandering the store with the parental units and saw them. I, like a moth to a flame, headed right toward them. It’s like some kind of strange gravitational pull, I seriously can NOT help it (not like I’m trying to, either). So, I walked out with 2 pounds under my arm and was giddy as could be.
At first I thought: “well, I can do a crostini with them…” Then I decided against that idea. Next was dipped in honey and rolled in chopped pistachio… Nah, that got shot down as well. So, as is usually the case, my brain started hinting at dessert.
I wanted a dessert that could be more of a vehicle for the figs than the star of the show. The figs should be the “break-out stars”, therefore I needed something that wasn’t too strong of a flavor. And out of the blue, there was the idea.
Panna Cotta is simply cooked cream mixed with sugar and milk, mixed with gelatin and cooled until set. It is very straight-forward and not an overly complicated dessert. I wanted to keep it simple as the figs were going to be packed with flavor (and slightly tipsy). The great thing about this dessert is that you likely have most of it in the house already.
It comes together in about 30 minutes and then it is into the fridge to set and you are done. If you don’t like figs, swap them out for berries or stone fruit. If you don’t want the alcohol in the dessert, use juice or simple syrup as your poaching liquid. As always, recipes are just a jumping off point… take it and make it your own.
Vanilla Panna cotta recipe
Normally, panna cotta is made with heavy cream but I “slimmed” it down just a pinch because I am in training. You, on the other hand needn’t be bothered… and if you are a size 2, please use heavy cream so I can live vicariously through you.
Don’t you just love those glasses? I raided my mom’s china cabinet for those. I believe they belonged to my grandmother or great-grandmother.
Once the figs are snugly placed into the pot, we’re ready to add our poaching liquid.
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split, scrape seeds into milk mixture and let it steep for 30 minutes
- a pinch of salt
Bourbon Poaching Liquid
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup Bourbon, I used Bulleit
- 1/4 cup sugar
- zest of 1 orange, in strips
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 allspice berries
- 3 cloves
Make Panna Cotta
- In a small saucepan sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand a few minutes to soften.
- Heat gelatin mixture over low heat until gelatin is dissolved, then set aside.
- In a medium saucepan bring half and half, milk and sugar just to a boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently. Pour milk mixture into gelatin mixture and add vanilla.
- Divide among eight 1/2-cup ramekins or glasses and cool to room temperature. Chill at least 4 hours or until set.
- Set figs inside of a medium pot so they are snug. Add bourbon, sugar, orange zest, cloves, allspice and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let figs cool in the liquid to room temp.
- Remove figs and set aside. Once cooled, cut in quarters, or if very large into eighths.
- Over moderately high heat, reduce liquid until thick and syrupy. Cool to room temperature.
- Pour cooled syrup on top of panna cotta and top with figs.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 282Saturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 52mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 1gSugar: 22gProtein: 4g