Sunday, February 12, 2012

3 Course Valentine's Day Dinner Part 3: Chocolate Panna Cotta

Dessert, let's get to that. I struggled with whether to post this recipe, not because it isn't good, it is really good but mostly because while all ingredients are PINK approved (with the exception of gelatin, not sure if that is) where do you put it in? If you are eating exactly as written on the PINK method and you just had course #2 of the Valentine's day meal, Soy Ginger Marinated Halibut on a bed of Oriental Slaw, you have used up your protein and carbs or fruit for the day. So this dessert doesn't fit into the plan, because it is more protein and slow carbs than you are allowed but it is still good for you as far as desserts go and all food used in the recipe is PINK approved, so choose for yourself if you want to include it in your meal for this special occasion. All told I believe you are getting in a 3 course meal for about 500 calories, not to shabby if you ask me.

Ok, now that I have said my peace regarding eating according to plan, you may ask, "what is Panna Cotta?" I describe it as a thick custard but, here is the definition according to Wikipedia.

Panna cotta (from Italian cooked cream) is an Italian dessert made by simmering together creammilk and sugar, mixing this with gelatin, and letting it cool until set. It is generally from the Northern Italian region of Piedmont, although it is eaten all over Italy, where it is served with wild berriescaramelchocolatesauce or fruit coulis.

I took the traditional recipe and PINK'd it because cream, milk and sugar are a no no on PINK. Instead of milk and cream, I used Greek Yogurt and instead of sugar, stevia. I also didn't cook anything so technically I think this would be considered a raw dessert. I also added a crust of almonds and Medjool dates which is not typical of a Panna Cotta, typically it is just the custard similar to how you serve flan. You could leave the crust out if you so desire though it was my favorite part of the dessert. Here is the recipe.

Chocolate Panna Cotta

4 Medjool Dates
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tsp coconut oil (optional)

Panna Cotta:
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
3 tsp Cacao Powder
2 tsp plain gelatin powder
2 tbsp warm water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
stevia to taste
Berries for the top (optional)


Start by pitting your dates. I found my dates at Trader Joe's in the produce section and got a 16 ounce package for $3.79 not bad and I can use them in lots of recipes.

Put your dates, almond flour (which is just ground up raw almonds, so you can totally make your own, if you don't want to buy) and coconut oil into your blender or food processor and blend until it forms a ball of "dough." I say the coconut oil is optional because I only used it to add a little bit of coconut flavor to the crust, the crust is really good!

Take your ball of dough and press it into you pan to form a crust. You could use just one tart or spring-form pan and make a larger panna cotta, I chose to use an individual tart and spring-form pan for mine, just because they are so cute. I only intended to get to servings out of this recipe but had enough to stretch to 3.

To make the panna cotta, start by softening your gelatin in the water. Let it sit while you mix up the yogurt portion.

Put your Greek yogurt, cacao powder, vanilla and stevia into a bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.

Add in your softened gelatin and stir again until combined, it will thin out your yogurt mixture.

Pour into your pans with the crust. 

Cover and refrigerate a couple of hours until the yogurt has thickened, and holds its shape.

Top with Strawberries or any other berry and serve. 


Be sure to check out part 1 and part 2 of the 3 course Valentine's Day dinner.

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