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…

Holiday Cookie Recipe: The Shirley Temple Kiss
{a pretty in pink chocolate cherry delight!}

Hello Sweetie!
(Doctor Who fans, that was for you)

Let's far this week on Rook No. 17 we've gone from the very dark --a book review of E.B. Hudspeth's The Resurrectionist-- to the opposite end of the spectrum with a light and cheery Hello Kitty shopping trip with my adorable niece.  Are you beginning to suspect a split personality?  Have no fear; with a wave of my magic whisk I'm going to bring both the dark and light together...

I'm tickled pink to introduce,
The Shirley Temple Kiss
It's a chewy cherry cookie with a Hershey's Special Dark Kiss. 

The inspiration for this sweet little confection came when I saw a pin of the Cherry Icebox Cookies from A Pretty Life.  I was, of course, completely charmed by the pink, and loved the idea of a cherry cookie.  So, I took my favorite cookie recipe of all time -- The Coconut Kiss -- and added just enough chopped maraschino cherries to give the cookies a light cherry flavor and a charming blush.  The results...magical!  

When warm, these cookies remind me of a chocolate covered cherry.  When cool, they are chewy and downright addictive.  These cherry delights stirred up my nostalgia for sipping Shirley  Temples, bubbling and bobbing with cherries, tickling my nose and my fancy when we'd go out to dine on special occasions when I was a child.  Shirley Temples always made me feel very grown up and very special all at once. 

I hope you enjoy these cookies with some sweet memories too!

Shirley Temple Kisses
(a.k.a. Cherry Kiss Cookies)

For a printable copy of this recipe, click the "Print-Friendly" icon at the end of this post.
Makes approximately 3-dozen cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 11 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2/3 cup chopped maraschino cherries (approx. 18)
  • 1 14oz. bag sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut (for rolling)
  • 1 bag Hershey's Special Dark Kisses, unwrapped

Step 1: In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

Step 2:  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.  Scrape down sides.  Add egg yolks and almond extract and beat till smooth. 

Step 3:  Add flour mixture and stir, on low to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Step 4:  On low speed, stir in chopped cherries.  (To get a fine, even chop, I pulsed the whole cherries in a food processor).  Add the entire 14 ounce bag of sweetened flaked coconut.  Stir on low (or medium-low) to incorporate.  Scrape down the sides and chill the dough in the refrigerator for one hour.

Step 5:  Preheat oven to 350° F.  Put  the 3 cups of sweetened shredded coconut (you can substitute more of the flaked if you like) in a small bowl.  Scoop chilled dough in 3/4 oz. portions (approx. 2 Tablespoons), roll into a ball between palms, and roll in coconut.  Arrange on an ungreased baking sheet at least 1" apart.  You should be able to get a dozen on a standard sheet.  

Step 6:  Bake for 14 minutes on the center rack of the oven, till cookies have puffed and coconut has just begun to get golden at the tips.  (While cookies are baking, start scooping and rolling another batch.)  Remove cookies from oven and press a Kiss into the center of each.  Return pan to oven and bake for an additional minute.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Use a small metal spatula to gently release the cookies from the pan, and finish cooling on a wire rack.  

Repeat with the remaining two batches.

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