Eggnog Panna Cotta

December 13, 2010

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is the food. Even though I don’t personally celebrate Christmas, I love making all different kinds of seasonal candy to give away as gifts. I always get excited when I see the the seasonal flavors, like peppermint and eggnog, appear in the stores. While I firmly believe that the deliciousness of peppermint ice cream should not just be limited to December, there is something about the richness of eggnog that just seems perfect for this time of year.

I wanted to take the flavors of eggnog and turn them into an elegant, and dairy-free, dessert worthy of any celebration. Since eggnog is essentially a custard I decided to make something creamy and custardy, like a panna cotta. These panna cotta came out wonderfully. Creamy with the richness of eggnog with brandy and rum, they are certainly a dessert to serve company. The addition of the caramel rum sauce take them over the top. I make a lot of desserts, and I thought these were one of the best things I have made in a while.


Eggnog Panna Cotta

Makes 12 (4 oz) servings

3 cups almond milk (I used Almond Breeze unsweetened original)
1 cup soy milk powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons gelatin*

*I used real kosher gelatin in testing this recipe. I imagine a vegetarian gelatin substitute (such as kojel or agar-agar) would work but the amount and method might need to be changed. If anyone tries it leave a comment with the results

In a medium saucepan whisk together 2 cups of almond milk, soy milk powder, oil, sugar and salt. Place the egg yolks into a medium bowl and whisking to combine. Place the remaining cup of almond milk in another medium bowl set over a bowl of ice water and set the strainer on top.

Slowly stream the warm mixture into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Scrape the warmed yolk mixture back into the pan and cook over medium heat stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with the spatula while stirring. Cook until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer into the remaining almond milk. Stir in the nutmeg, rum, brandy and vanilla. Stir over the ice bath until cool.

Remove 1/2 cup of the cool custard and place it in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the 1/2 cup of custard and stir to combine. Return the remaining custard to the pan and heat until just barely steaming. Do not let it boil. Stir in the gelatin mixture and stir well to dissolve the gelatin. Pour the custard into serving cups or ramekins and chill until set, at least several hours.

Once the panna cotta is set, serve it either in the serving cup or turn it out onto a plate. To unmold the panna cotta on a plate set the bottom of the ramekin in hot water for 20 seconds and then run a thin sharp knife around the edges of the custard. Place a plate on top and invert. Serve with Rum Caramel Sauce (recipe below).

Rum Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon rum

Spread the sugar in an even layer on the bottom of a large heavy saucepan. Pour 1/2 cup of water evenly over the top. Heat the sugar over medium heat without stirring until the mixture begins to bubble. If it is cooking unevenly gently swirl the pan, but it is important not to stir. Cook until the sugar turns a deep amber color and begins to smoke slightly. Remove from the heat and carefully pour in the remaining 1/2 cup of water. It will steam up a lot, so pour carefully. When it stops steaming whisk the caramel until smooth. Whisk in the rum.

Caramel sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

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