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Dessert to Impress

Do you know anyone who is a food snob? You know who I'm talking about, that friend of yours who refuses to eat American cheese and salad from a bag. Her definition of dinner is a seven course meal with wine pairings to match each course. How on earth can you possibly invite her to your next dinner party when you know she'll turn her nose up at your lack of foie gras and sumac? Here's my solution, don't invite her for dinner, invite her for dessert. I have a can't-go-wrong, guaranteed-to-knock-your-socks-off (even if you're a food snob) dessert called panna cotta. Just the sound of it conjures up fantasies of an exquisite dessert. To impress your food snob friends and make panna cotta,

Panna Cotta with Honey
From Michael Chiarello

3 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 gelatin leaves, soaked in cold water for about 4 minutes
1/2 cup honey
Ground and toasted hazelnuts, optional

  1. Place the cream, vanilla bean, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
  2. Remove the vanilla bean and split lengthwise. Scrape the vanilla beans into the cream.
  3. Squeeze the gelatin leaves to remove any excess water, then add them to the pan, stirring constantly about 30 seconds, or until the gelatin is melted.
  4. Drizzle about 2 teaspoons honey into the bottom of 6 (4-ounce) molds.
  5. Ladle the cream mixture into each.
  6. Refrigerate for several hours, until thoroughly chilled.
  7. To remove from the mold: Dip the bottom of the mold into a pot of hot water to loosen the panna cotta. Slide a knife around the edge, then carefully turn over onto a serving plate.
  8. Drizzle with the remaining honey and garnish with hazelnuts, if desired.

Serves 6.

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