Recipe: Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Apricot Gelée

Panna Cotta, an Italian dessert of silky, sweetened cream set with gelatin, is all at once simple, classic and elegant.  It is, at its best, subtle, not overly sweet, and the perfect way to end a meal on a light and refreshing note.
Panna cotta comes together quickly and can be molded in any type of vessels you choose -- from ramekins to demitasse, martini glasses to mason jars.  I like to compliment my panna cotta with a thin layer of gelée -- a gelatin stabilized glaze made from fresh fruit.  Apricots are in season right now, and are bursting with summer sweetness, so I chose to do an apricot gelée.  You can use my recipe with any type of fruit you'd like.  
Here are some photos of panna cottas I've made in the past with a variety of gelées and vessels:
Vanilla Panna Cotta with a Honey Gelée and Bee Pollen
Lemon Panna Cotta, no gelée
Meyer-Lemon Panna Cotta, Strawberry-Rhubarb Gelee

I like to decorate my desserts with edible flowers, especially in summer and springtime. My theme fo…

DIY: Pumpkin Pompom Garland
A crafty workshop inspired by Pom-Poms! from Quirk Books (review and giveaway)


They're the classic handicraft on which
many creatives cut their first DIY teeth.
Colorful, whimsical, and so easy to make,
pompoms are all at once vintage, retro
and oh so NOW!

As  a child, I made pompoms with my grandmother by winding yarn around the lid of a margarine tub.  When I received a review copy of Pom-Poms! 25 Awesomely Fluffy Projects, the latest crafting title from Quirk Books, I felt a surge of nostalgia and inspiration to share the art of making pompoms with my friends and family.  So, with the help of my friends at Quirk, I organized a cozy little craft night for some of the fabulous women in my community (with all different levels of crafting experience). 

Quirk supplied copies of Pom-Poms! for all the guests, I provided the materials, hot cider and wine, and the gals brought some tasty treats to share. The party came together effortlessly, and everyone enjoyed an evening of crafting and conversation.  The garlands all turned out beautifully.  By the end of the evening, everyone was a pom-pom making expert!

Just imagine how charming one of these garlands would be wrapped around your banister, swagged across your mantel, or dangling from your chandelier.  You won't find this project in the book.  The book was the inspiration, as was an apple garland that caught my eye on Two Shades of Pink.  Here's how to make one of your very own:

Pumpkin Pompom Garland

(makes one garland with 12 pompom pumpkins)

  • Orange yarn (12 16-yard pieces)
  • Sage green felt (a 4"x 4" square will do)
  • Jute (10')
  • Tacky Glue
  • Scissors
  • Brown waxed twine (16")
  • A bamboo skewer
  • X-ACTO knife
  • a 1" piece of tape

Step 1:  Make the pompom.  Start by winding the yarn securely around three fingers, as pictured below.

Gently remove the bundle from your fingers.  Use a 6" piece of yarn to tie off the bundle, around the middle.

Use scissors to cut all the loops, resulting in a ragged pompom. 

Give the pompom a "haircut".  Keep trimming away until you have a dense and even ball.

Step 2:  Cut a small stem from the green felt.  Use your finger or the bamboo skewer to part an opening in the pompom.  Add a dab of tacky glue.  Insert the stem, then pinch the opening back together around the stem.

Step 3:  Wrap the waxed twine tightly around the skewer to create a long coil.  Remove coiled twine and cut a small piece.  Put a dab of tacky glue on the end of the twine and insert next to the stem of the pompom pumpkin.  Repeat process to create 12 pumpkins.

Step 4:  Assemble the garland.  Create a needle for threading the pumpkins by using an X-ACTO knife to make a 1" slit in the pointed end of the bamboo skewer.  Insert one end of your piece of jute (as pictured above).  Use a piece of tape to seal up the end of the skewer.  Use threaded skewer to pierce through the center of each pompom.  Feel around gently to find a soft spot.  Don't worry, a few pieces of thread may come out with the bamboo needle.  You can trim any loose threads when finished with threading.  

Step 5:  To finish, evenly space the pumpkins along the length of jute.  Tie off the ends of the jute.  Cut small leaves from the remaining felt.  Glue two leaves to the jute in-between each pumpkin.  It helps to have the garland hanging while adding the leaves.  

Once you start making pompoms, you'll be hooked.
Have you been bitten by the pompom bug yet?

If you're looking for the perfect holiday gift for a creative spirit, look no further than Pom-Poms! by Sarah Goldschadt and Lexi Walters Wright.  For beginners, Pom-Poms! covers the basics with several simple, inexpensive, and innovative techniques for making the perky little puffs.

Pom-pom Pillow Details, page 15; Pom-pom Flowers, page 8
From there, you'll find inspiration by the yard...with step-by-step instructions and color photos for how to make pompoms out of unconventional material such as coffee filters, grocery bags, old t-shirts and Christmas tree garland.  There are projects (25 in all) for DIY fashionistas, party planners, and every member of the family.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Rubber-band Pom-pom Ring, page 39
Flower Brooch, page 47
Tinsel Cake Toppers, page 53


My friends at Quirk have generously offered to give a copy of Pom-Poms! to one lucky Rook No. 17 reader.  Enter through the Rafflecopter widget below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Can't wait?
You can grab a copy here and be a prolific pom-pom maker in no time.  

UPDATE (11-3-13)

After the pom-pom party, I was delighted to receive several messages from guests with photos of projects they had made with their families the very next day:

"Jenn, thanks so much for the fun party. I had fun with the pumpkins, but my 13-year old daughter saw the Pom-Poms book and took off with it. She stayed up until 3:00 am Friday night making a Pom-Pom scarf for one friend's birthday and she's already working on another Pom-Pom birthday surprise for next weekend. She has also sketched out a new room design which includes Pom-Poms on window coverings and pillows . . . I see many trips to the yarn store in our future!" -- Mary Lee

"I made a lot more Pom-Poms - pumpkins, pears, and one that sort of looks like a pine cone! I even gave some to my mother-in-law. I am thinking about spring time pom-poms that look like Easter eggs.....Thanks Jenn for a wonderful craft night. Thanks to Quirk Books for all the inspiration!" -- Kelly

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