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: Cookies for Santa Autograph Plate

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Sharpie, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #StaplesSharpie

I love making holiday magic for my girls!  Every year, we put out a plate of homemade cookies for Santa Claus and the girls leave a short note asking him for his autograph.  This year, I decided to bring the two traditions together.  Using an inexpensive white plate, a set of Sharpie oil-based paint pens and a box of reinforcement labels from Staples, I came up with this simple and inexpensive keepsake DIY project for a "Cookies for Santa Autograph Plate."

Step 1:  Decorate a plain ceramic plate (tutorial below)

 Step 2:  On Christmas Eve, put out cookies for Santa...

...and a Sharpie pen.

Old Saint Nick will do the rest.

Here's how to transform a regular plate into a
Cookies for Santa Autograph Plate
with Sharpie:

  • 1 white ceramic dinner plate (I purchased mine at my local Safeway for less than $4).
Staples is my one-stop shop for these multi-purpose crafting supplies.
  • Sharpie Oil Based Paint Pens in silver and gold (fine and medium tips were used on my plate) 
  • Clear Reinforcement Labels (Avery 5721)

Step 1:  If you have beautiful handwriting, you can freehand the text on the plate with your Sharpie Oil Based metallic pen.  My handwriting leaves much to be desired, so I used a simple graphite transfer method.  I started by creating a template on my computer.  You can download and use mine HERE

Cut out your lettering and turn over.  Use a pencil to completely shade the area opposite the lettering with graphite.

 Flip back over and center on your plate.  Tape into place.

Using the pencil, trace the graphics.  Press firmly as you trace.  When you remove the paper, your outlines will have transferred.

Step 2:   Time to paint with your Sharpies!

Follow the instructions on the back of the package to load the tips with paint.  Gently fill in your outlines with the Sharpie paint.  Use a finer tip for the smaller writing.  


1)  To make my signature line nice and straight, I put a piece of tape under the graphite line.  After drawing the line, I removed the tape.

2)  Be careful not to overload the tip of your pen.  In case of any sudden burps of ink, keep a few Q-tips on hand.  If you make a mistake, you can remove the paint by rubbing with a dry paper towel.

Step 3:  Embellish the rim of your plate.  I chose a polka-dot motif.  The dots were easy to make with a little help from a few reinforcement labels from Staples ($1.50 well spent).  Arrange the labels on the rim of the plate.  Use your Sharpie to fill in the center of each label.  When paint is dry, peel off the labels.  

Your plate is done!

Don't forget to put it out on Christmas Eve with some delicious cookies*
(and a glass of milk too).

Leave a Sharpie out for Santa to sign for receipt of his cookies.

Of course, I wasn't able to leave our plate out for Santa just yet.  The girls agreed that it was okay for me to forge his signature for the sake of the blog post.  Fortunately, his autograph is easy to find online.  I simply printed it out and used the same graphite transfer technique.  You can find it HERE.

To preserve the autographed plate for generations, place the plate in a cold oven.  Set oven to 350° F and bake for 30 minutes once the oven reaches temperature.  

*Sharpie does not recommend using their products on areas that will make direct contact with your food or mouth.  

Visit Staples this holiday to take advantage of the $6 holiday promotion on the 12-count multi-colored pack of Sharpies and the Metallic Assorted 4-count pack as well as other select Sharpie products at Staples.

Are you a Sharpie fan?  Stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest from Sharpie by following them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

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