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…

Marzipan Pigs ~ Wishing You a Very Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I am thankful to a good friend for reminding me of the New Year tradition of making marzipan pigs.  Last night our families gathered and after a delicious dinner, a walk in the crisp evening air, and some rollicking conversation, we sat down with our children, got our hands nice and sticky, and created a passel of perfect pink porcines.

The tradition of making and giving Glücksschwein (lucky pigs) made from marzipan during the winter holidays dates back to Germany in the Middle Ages, where the pig was a symbol of good fortune and prosperity.  According to German tradition, the "Schwein" (pig) brings good luck over the coming 12 months. 

Other traditional symbols of good luck are the toadstool (Fliegenpilze) and four-leaf clover (vierblättrige Kleeblätter).

Making the pigs was a fun way to connect with our past and look toward the future with our girls.  The project was easy to do too.  We purchased pre-made marzipan from the grocery store and tinted it with just a dab of pink gel food color.  I had the good fortune of coming across a vintage marzipan pig mold online many years ago, so we got some terrific castings by pressing the marzipan in the powdered sugared mold.  The girls had fun making free-form designs as well.

Wishing you and yours a very prosperous and sweet New Year!

What are your New Year traditions?

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