June for me has always been the languid, unending heart of summer — a month you sip slowly and cup in your hands like a batch of blueberries. But this year, I don’t know where my June has gone. I somehow managed to take four business trips, cooking for two Comedy Kitchen shows, celebrate both the S.O.’s and my birthday, and celebrate our anniversary. But between all of those goings-on, I’ve barely been able to spend a day in the kitchen for The Otium.
So when I finally found the time to treat myself to a day of cooking, I also decided to treat myself to something decadent. And to me, “decadent” means rich, thick, unctuous, unapologetic cream. And there’s no better way to showcase a good cream than a panna cotta.
This version is flavored with plump summer blackberries and just enough fresh oregano to produce a hint of curiosity when you savor a spoonful of the panna cotta. This little treat is rich and decadent, like I hoped it would be, but also bright and refreshing on a warm summer day.
What I really love about panna cotta, though, is that it is unbelievably easy to make, yet sounds so elegant. This recipe is a bit lean on sugar, as I don’t like overtly-sweet desserts. So if you’re a real sweet tooth, add a couple extra tablespoons of sugar. You could also drizzle some honey on top of the finished product.
I could go on forever about how much this dessert saved my June. But I’ll just keep this post short and sweet… like this recipe. P.S. I am obsessed with these family heirloom coffee cups and stemware, bearing my grandfather’s initials etched onto the sides.
Blackberry Oregano Panna Cotta
Makes 6 servings | Cook time 15 min + 2 hr refrigeration | Adapted from David Lebovitz
- 4 C cream
- 1/2 C sugar
- 1/3 C blackberries
- 1 + 1/2 tsp roughly chopped fresh oregano (or 3 tsp dried)
- 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 packets unflavored gelatin (about 4 1/2 tsp)
- 6 Tbsp cold water
- vegetable oil (optional)
- extra blackberries, oregano, honey, or whipped cream for garnish (optional)
- Place cream, sugar, blackberries, and oregano into large saucepan. Slice vanilla bean, scrape seeds. Add vanilla pod and seeds to saucepan. Mix well.
- Cook cream mixture over medium heat until it is thickened and just begins to boil. Crush blackberries during cooking to release their flavor and color.
- While cream is cooking, sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl. Mix until gelatin is dissolved. If you wish to serve panna cotta unmolded, lightly oil custard or serving cups with a neutral-tasting vegetable oil.
- Once the cream mixture has been removed from heat, pour it into a large bowl through a fine mesh sieve to remove the oregano leaves, blackberry pulp and seeds, and vanilla pod.
- Add gelatin to cream, and whisk to a smooth consistency. Pour mixture into custard cups or molds (I just used coffee cups).
- Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. I find panna cotta straight from the fridge to be too cold, so I’d suggest letting them sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with extra blackberries or oregano, honey, or a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.