Eggnog Panna Cotta has everything you love about the creamy holiday drink, but I’ve turned it into a luscious dessert. Skip the liquor if you want it to be alcohol-free.
Panna Cotta is one of those dishes that, if you’ve never made it, you might think it’s super-fancy and super hard to make. But it really couldn’t be simpler. Although the name means “cooked cream” in Italian, there’s very little cooking involved.
At it’s most basic, a Panna Cotta is a flavorful cream base that is warmed just enough to melt the gelatin. The cream is poured into a mold and chilled. There’s about 5 minutes of actual cooking involved.
For my Eggnog Panna Cotta you’ll have to do just a few extra minutes of cooking to make the eggnog base. But we’ve made these cooked custards a whole bunch of times, haven’t we? Pastry Cream, Creme Brulee, Ice Cream and even Lemon Curd all use the same basic custard making technique. Heat the liquid base, mix it with the egg and cook until thickened. That’s it.
Tips for Making Eggnog Panna Cotta:
- Cook the custard base low and slow to avoid curdling the eggs. The custard is ready when the eggs reach 160ºF and it has thickened enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, .
- You can eliminate the liquor all-together for an alcohol-free dessert. You can adjust the amount of alcohol to taste. Don’t use more than 1/2 cup of liquor or the dessert might not set.
- Cool the Eggnog completely before adding the gelatin. The gelatin won’t bloom properly in a warm liquid and you’ll end up with lumps.
- Don’t overheat the eggnog once the gelatin is added. You just want to warm it enough to melt the gelatin.
- You can pour the custard into a mold to set, then turn it out onto a serving plate. You can also pour the custard into a pretty serving dish and serve it in the dish.
- The Eggnog can be made several days before making the Panna Cotta.
- The Panna Cotta can be made 2-3 days ahead and chilled until ready to serve.
- Serve the Panna Cotta with berries, cranberry relish, sliced fruit or whipped cream.
- 3 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 112g) granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 1/2 cups (12 oz, 360 ml) whole milk
- 1 cup (8 oz, 240 ml) heavy cream
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup (2-4 oz, 60-120ml) brandy, bourbon, or dark rum (adjust to taste)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon gelatin powder
- In a small sauce pan whisk together the eggs, yolk, sugar and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk. Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and barely coats the back of a spoon.
- Strain the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Add the cream, liquor, vanilla and nutmeg. Cool completely then chill until ready to make the panna cotta.
- Spray four 8-oz ramekins or molds of your choice with cooking spray (do not use baking spray with flour added). Set the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with a paper towel (this will keep the ramekins from sliding around). If using glass serving dishes do not spray.
- Pour 2 cups of the cool eggnog in a cold saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the eggnog, whisk it briefly to make sure there are no lumps, then let it bloom for 5 minutes.
- Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Do not let the mixture come to a boil.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining eggnog.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the ramekins. Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours or over night. The Panna Cotta can be made 2-3 days ahead.
- You can serve the Panna Cotta in the ramekins or use the tip of a paring knife to loosen the sides of the cream then turn the Panna Cotta out onto a serving plate. Serve with berries, sauce and/or a dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with a little more nutmeg.
Skip the liquor if you want an alcohol-free dessert. Don't use more than 1/2 cup or the dessert might not set.
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