Food & Wine

Indulgent dessert: Panna cotta with a wholesome, nutty twist

Rita Held/Special to the Town Crier
Refresh the Italian treat panna cotta with the addition of dark chocolate and pecans.

A new year often means it’s time to try something different, whether it’s travel, an exercise plan, a wine or cooking up something new in the kitchen.

Although chocolate is a favorite of many, chocolate pudding is a less-common sweet. That’s what makes this dessert unique. Classic panna cotta (Italian for “cooked cream”) is typically vanilla-flavored. I’ve changed that up by using dark chocolate, a splash of bitters and toasted pecans. This recipe is quite easy, and it’s a delicious indulgence without the calories of heavy cream in traditional panna cotta. The dark, roasted flavors of Angostura bitters and pecans add a delicious, bittersweet oomph.

Chocolate-Pecan Panna Cotta

• 1-1/2 cups Greek-style yogurt (2 percent fat)

• 2 cups milk (2 percent)

• 2 cups semisweet, bitter sweet or dark chocolate chips

• 1/3 cup sugar

• 2 tablespoons cream sherry

• 2 teaspoons Angostura aromatic bitters

• 1 envelope unflavored gelatin

• 1/2 cup toasted pecans, plus 1 or 2 toasted halves for garnish, finely chopped

Place yogurt in medium saucepan. Gradually add all but 1/2 cup milk, whisking after each addition until smooth. Add chocolate chips, sugar, sherry and bitters. Over medium heat, whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, 7-10 minutes. Do not overheat. Taste and add more sugar if desired.

While chocolate melts, stir gelatin into remaining 1/2 cup milk; let stand 5 minutes. Stir again and microwave on high 1 minute, or until very hot. Stir until gelatin is completely dissolved, then stir into saucepan. Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes. Add pecans. Pour into individual ramekins or brandy or martini glasses. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours, or until set.

Makes 8 servings.

Notes: If using bittersweet chocolate chips with a cacao percentage on the label, taste panna cotta while it’s still hot and stir in additional sugar if desired.

Whole milk and yogurt may be used for this recipe.

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