I recently had a brunch for friends at my house and when I was planning the menu I remembered I had some gelatin I wanted to try using. I had never used unflavored gelatin before. Like most people I grew up eating Jell-O and making Jell-O, but I don’t remember us really ever making something using unflavored gelatin.
The first place I start doing my foodie research when I want to try using something new is on Pinterest. Everything that came up was Jell-O, gummies, and marshmallows. Then I noticed as I scrolled to even further that panna cotta came up a lot.
I’m like, ok. What’s Panna Cotta?
Panna cotta is Panna cotta is an Italian dessert of sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and molded. The cream may be aromatized with coffee, vanilla, or other flavorings.Wikipedia
Ok, now I’m intrigued. I had to try making this for my brunch! The hard part was finding a flavor that would go with my Fall theme. I wanted it to be a warm and inviting flavor. I also needed to be able to tweak it and have the possibility of some added individual sweetness. I went with one of my favorite Fall drinks, a chai tea latte flavor. I found a recipe that called for twice the number of tea bags and I knew that would give me the bold flavor I was looking for.
Next, I had to find dishes that were not too large and not too small. I settled on my 33-year-old stemmed brandy snifters. They were perfect!
Here’s my tweak… since I was making six panna cottas, I decided to use my own homemade caramel sauce on a few of the dishes. Two would have the caramel on the bottom, two would have them on the top and two would not have it at all. My friends could then choose how much or how little sweet they wanted.
Panna cotta, I found, is not as hard to make as most people may assume. A chai tea latte panna cotta requires an additional step because you will be steeping part of the milk used for the recipe to infuse the flavors.
Next, and most important, you’ll need to “grow” your gelatin separately. Since I had never done this before, I read all the different suggestions and went with the “sprinkle gelatin over milk” method and then simply let it do it’s thing. See how it kinda looks wrinkly in the middle photo below?
Finally, after everything had steeped and grown, you get to blend the two together. The recipe I used suggested you strain your panna cotta to remove any lumps. I guess I did it right, because there weren’t any!
Then it’s simply a matter of pouring the panna cotta into your dishes, refrigerating them until firm (or overnight in my case) and then putting the final touches on before serving. Here are some ideas:
- Two flavor layers (perhaps over a layer of coffee panna cotta?)
- Side tilted layers (a little more complicated)
- Fruit curd on the top or bottom if you’ve made a fruit or plain PC
- A dollop of whipped cream on top
- A layer of caramel or chocolate sauce (make sure it’s thick enough)
- Sprinkled with various toppings
I obviously went with a layer of caramel sauce on the top or the bottom. I then added a dollop of homemade fresh whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon and crumbled ginger cookies. You’re not surprised right? Remember, I am all about textures!
Here’s the thing my brother taught me. Never be afraid to try making something new. You never know when you will find your next favorite! – Thanks John!
Chai Tea Latte Panna Cotta
- 1¾ cups whole milk
- 6 bags chai tea I used Twining's
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp allspice
- 3 tsp powdered unflavored gelatin I used Great Lakes Gelatin
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- ¼ cup ginger cookie crumbles
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon to sprinkle
- ½ cup fresh whipped cream
- Prepare panna cotta dishes with any bottom layer you are wanting to add. Chill to firm at least 3 hours
- Pour 1 cup of milk into a medium-sized saucepan. Add Chai teabags, cinnamon stick, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and allspice.
- Heat over low heat until milk is steaming and bubbles start to appear on the edge, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and cover, allowing tea and spices to steep for 15 minutes.
- Remove cinnamon stick and cloves from your steeped chai tea milk. Squeeze the tea bags as you remove them to get all that chai tea goodness.
- While milk tea is steeping, add 3/4 cup of cold milk to separate saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Allow gelatin to "grow" for 5 minutes. DO NOT STIR. It should look wrinkly on the top by the end.
- Place gelatin milk on the stovetop, turn the heat on low and slowly add the chai tea milk to the gelatin milk and stir for a minute or two until the gelatin has dissolved.
- Add the sugar and stir again until dissolved, a minute or two. DO NOT LET MILK BOIL. You only want to heat it gently until everything is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and add cream, vanilla and salt. Blend until combined. Strain to make sure there aren't any lumps of undissolved gelatin.
- Pour into dishes. Refrigerate at least 4 hours to allow them to set. I made mine the day before to save time and to allow time to add caramel sauce on top.
- Remove and garnish before serving.
On a side note….. I use Penzey’s spices for my baking because of their freshness and quality. I also use Great Lakes Gelatin and Collagen Protein Powders because I find that they dissolve the best. Lastly, I was quite surprised to find many tea companies use soy and other products in their teas. Some teas also have more floral tones that I don’t like. That is why I chose Twining’s. Always choose spices and products that you prefer. I always want to share why I choose the products that I do with you!