Herbal Desserts For Valentine's Day: Milk Chocolate-Lavender Panna Cotta

| February/March 2007

  • Simple and elegant Milk Chocolate-Lavender Panna Cotta is served in a romantic wine glass.
    Photo by Matthew Stallbaumer

Lavender is for “loyalty.” And a loyal following you will have once you serve this silky custard. If you’re a novice at combining herbs with sweets, this is a safe place to start. The understated lavender bouquet adds a delicate floral suggestion, especially when paired with rich milk chocolate. MAKES ABOUT FIVE 3/4 CUP SERVINGS

• 1/4 cup cold water
• 1 envelope powdered unflavored gelatin (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
• 1 cup whole milk
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms
• 5 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
• 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


• Whipped cream
• Fresh lavender sprigs (at least 5)

1. Pour water into top bowl of small double boiler. Sprinkle gelatin uniformly over water. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes until gelatin has completely absorbed water.

2. Meanwhile, combine milk, cream and lavender blossoms in saucepan. Bring to scalding point over medium heat and turn off. Steep about 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, melt gelatin over low heat on top of double boiler. Turn off heat once melted. Strain milk mixture into another saucepan, pressing excess fluid from blossoms. Place saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate and sugar, stirring constantly until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove pan from heat. Whisk in melted gelatin, making sure it is evenly distributed. Whisk in vanilla extract.

4. Strain mixture into container with pouring spout. Pour mixture into five 8- to 10-ounce wine glasses and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour. Cover with plastic wrap and chill another 5 hours until completely set.

5. Garnish each dessert with dollop of whipped cream and sprig of fresh lavender, as desired.

Julia M. Usher is a food writer, recipe designer and food stylist in St. Louis. Visit her at www.herbcompanion.com/contributors .

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