Rich, warming notes of vanilla bean, the subtle sweetness of wild honey and a creamy, velvety texture. Oh how I’ve missed desserts like this! Vanilla Bean and Honey Kefir Panna Cotta is simple to make, but decadent in taste. It looks elaborate, but is easy to prepare. It sounds bad for you, but is guilt-free.
Oh, Hi! Guess what? Its my birthday month. In fact, I am a Valentine’s Day baby! I thought it would be fun to embarrass myself a little, and in celebration of my birthday month share a few fun facts about myself. You don’t want to miss #4, its extra embarrassing.
- I grew up in Healdsburg, California in the heart of the wine country, but I didn’t like wine until I turned 21 and moved to San Diego.
- My favorite wines are Italian wines. Velvety, rich Amarone or a mineraly and light Falanghina. I was influenced by the Italian restaurant I worked in through college.
- I grew up on 3 acres of land and had ducks, geese, dogs, cats, chickens, horses, guinea pigs and any other stray animal that my sister and I found on our property.
- My first pet was a boxer, pit-bull mix named Bosco and he liked to climb trees. He was my best friend and when I was little I used to bark at cars with him. At that point my parents decided to put me in preschool so that I would make human friends and stop barking at cars :)
I worked in a fine Italian restaurant through college waiting tables and during my time there I would ask the chef questions about how he prepared the food. I would observe the chef and cooks prep for the night making stuffed zucchini, caponata, carpaccio, and various entrees and desserts. I learned how to season fish, beef, lamb and various vegetable dishes by using simple, high quality ingredients. Food can be prepared simply and contain mouth-watering flavor just like this Vanilla Bean And Honey Kefir Panna Cotta.
They always had a selection of desserts on display so that after a customer finished their meal we would present that tray of desserts to the table. It was a clever way to get people to order dessert. It’s hard to resist when you can see it, smell it and it’s within reach.
My favorite dessert and the one I sold the most was vanilla bean panna cotta with fresh berries and raspberry sauce. If I was lucky I got to eat one myself occasionally. It was so creamy, rich and velvety in texture. It’s been a long time since I had panna cotta, probably since I worked in that Italian restaurant. Until now.
What is Panna Cotta?
Panna cotta, as I used to describe it to customers, has the consistency of a custard but is made without eggs and is a bit lighter. It’s made with cream, sugar, vanilla and gelatin. Instead of using eggs and baking it, you use gelatin to make it firm like custard. No baking is needed. Its great topped with berries and berry sauce, chocolate or caramel.
Milk kefir is fermented milk. The milk is fermented using milk kefir grains or a kefir culture starter. When I first started making milk kefir I used kefir culture starter because it was easier. Panna cotta is usually made with heavy cream, but I chose to use milk kefir instead, because it has similar consistency and is much healthier.
I make my own milk kefir from raw milk to get the most benefits from it. I made the panna cotta both with homemade milk kefir and store bought goats milk kefir and both were delicious. If you want to make this from homemade milk kefir, either buy the milk kefir grains or the kefir culture starter and follow the instructions in the packet.
Benefits of milk kefir
- Contains probiotics so it’s easy to digest and good for gut health.
- 99% lactose free so people who normally can’t tolerate dairy can usually have kefir.
- According to Donna Gates, in her article, “4 benefits of milk kefir that could change your life” ,she says,
“Milk kefir is the perfect probiotic superfood for everyone! Pregnant women, babies, children, the elderly, and athletes can benefit from this nutrient-rich fermented drink that is easy to digest”
How about having beautiful skin, hair and nails? Gelatin will increase growth of hair and nails and tighten loose skin. I’ve been eating it almost daily in one form or another and the biggest thing I’ve noticed so far is how strong my nails have become. Its really good for your gut health and digestion too. I highly recommend Great Lakes Unflavored Beef Gelatin, because it’s made from grass-fed cows. I use it all the time.
Having both milk kefir and gelatin in the same recipe is super beneficial for your health. It turns a dessert that is bad for you into one that is beneficial.
- Place the kefir in a sauce pan and whisk in the vanilla and honey.
- Put the heat on low and gently warm the kefir up. We just want it to get warm. Any hotter and we risk killing the beneficial bacteria.
- Keep whisking the honey and vanilla until well incorporated.
- Put the gelatin powder in a bowl and pour the hot water over it. Stir it until it is dissolved.
- While mixing the kefir with a whisk, slowly pour the gelatin mixture into the warm kefir.
- Whisk the mixture together until it is smooth and creamy.
- Pour into small glasses and chill in the fridge to let it set for a few hours or over night.
- Chop up the strawberries and place on top of the Panna Cotta before serving.
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