Light Kefir Panna Cotta with Strawberry Compote
Panna Cotta is one of those desserts which look very fancy but actually incredibly easy to make. This silky, custard-like goodness is so great for summer. Because let’s face it, it’s not fun to spend a few hours in the hot kitchen baking pies and sweating next to an oven. That’s why summertime is when Panna Cotta can shine in all it’s glory, especially when topped with seasonal berries or fruits. For this particular recipe, I suggest cooking simple Strawberry Compote to add a little brightness to this creamy dessert.
Those who like Italian cuisine must know that Panna Cotta is one of the classic Italian desserts. It literally means “cooked cream” and served in almost every Italian restaurant. Traditionally Panna Cotta is cooked with heavy cream and can be infused with a variety of flavors from delicate vanilla to zesty lemon. The classic version of Panna Cotta is pretty reaching and high in calories. That’s why I wanted to make a lighter version, so I won’t be feeling guilty eating two portions 🙂 As an alternative for heavy cream I used half-and-half, plus I added some delicious Lifeway Kefir to cut the sweetness and balance the flavor.
Kefir is a very common in Eastern Europe. We drink it almost every day, usually plane, but now flavors like strawberry, peach and even different grains become more and more popular. The closest analog I found in the US is buttermilk, bit it’s not quite the same. Kefir has much more good stuff in it. It’s more like a tart and tangy cultured milk smoothie that is high in protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Plus it has kefir live and active cultures which are supper good for you tummy and overall well being. Kefir is delicious by itself, but it’s even better in my summer Panna Cotta.
Panna Cotta is that it should be made in advance, which makes it a perfect do-ahead dessert. Feel free to use any molds or custard cups you have; this dessert is very forgiving. As for me, I prefer to serve it in a glass jar to make the dessert look more rustic. Hope you’ll enjoy it and let me know what you think about my Kefir Panna Cotta.
By the way, if you’re curious to try kefir, I’ve teamed up with Lifeway, and they are willing to give way one month of Lifeway Kefir to one lucky winner with three runner-ups who will receive free product coupons. Go to my Instagram for more details and good luck!
- unflavored gelatin - 1 1/2 teaspoons
- water - 2 tablespoons
- half and half - 1 1/4 cup
- sugar - 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons, divided
- salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- vanilla - 1 pod, split lengthwise
- Lifeway Plain Kefir - 1 3⁄4 cups
- strawberries - 1 1/2 cups, diced
- lime juice - 2 tablespoons
- lime zest - 1 stripe
- fresh mint - a few leaves, for serving
- Pour 2 tablespoons of water into a small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the heavy cream, 1/2 cup of sugar, and pinch of salt.
- Scrape seeds from the vanilla pod into the pan, then add pod.
- Simmer for approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the gelatin. Stir well until gelatin disolves and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Remove from the heat and strain the mixture trough the mash sieve. Let cool 5 minutes.
- Pour Kefir in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, gradually add the half-and-half mixture.
- Pour the mixture into small ramekins or other containers. Refrigerate Panna Cotta until set, about 4 hours.
- Meanwhile, cook the strawberry compote. In a small sauce pan combine diced strawberries, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5-7 minutes, or until the compote slightly thickens.
- Remove from the heat and cool.
- To serve, top the Panna Cotta with 2 tablespoons of strawberry compote and a mint leave.