I had never actually tasted Limoncello on its own until yesterday. I think the only time I've had it at all was stealing a bite of someone's dessert at The Cheesecake Factory. One of the attorneys I used to work for had given me his family's recipe, so I was stockpiling lemon peels for a while to try it, but the recipe called for Everclear, and you apparently can't buy that where I live. I know other people make it with rum or vodka. I just haven't gotten around to trying it yet.
I was out running errands with my sister last week, and she wanted to pop in the liquor store for something. I knew there was something I wanted to pick up as well, but couldn't for the life of me remember what (still haven't)! I wandered aimlessly, hoping something would spark a memory, but nope. I did, however, spot a bottle of Limoncello and decided it was high time I tried it. WOW, this stuff is good!
I had been wanting to try Panna Cotta for a while now. Hmmm, now that I'm thinking about it, that's another thing I've only ever had by stealing a bite of someone else's dessert. I don't usually order dessert, but after a nephew's graduation dinner a few years ago, there was so much "Mmmmmm" ing going on at the table, I broke down and took a taste. I decided to pair the two things and try a Limconello Panna Cotta. It's certainly warm enough here this week to warrant a cool, after-dinner treat.
My problem was that we had somehow managed to use ALL of the white sugar in the house, and I didn't feel like going out yesterday, so I decided to use brown sugar. I had no idea if that would work, or if the molasses would mess with the texture, but I decided to forge ahead without looking into the matter. Turned out great! And yes, if you search "panna cotta" with "brown sugar," plenty of recipes will turn up. Apparently I had no cause for concern.
1 packet unflavored gelatin
3 T cold water
2 c heavy cream
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/2 c Limoncello
1/2 t vanilla
PAM cooking spray
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and set aside to absorb.
Over medium heat, being sure to stir or whisk frequently to prevent sticking or scorching, cook the cream and brown sugar until it starts to thicken and just begins go bubble.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla and Limoncello, then the gelatin mixture, stirring until dissolved.
If you plan to eat your Panna Cotta straight out of glasses or bowls, there is no need for cooking spray. If you want to invert it, you should spray the inside of your container(s). I chose to use small stainless prep bowls. They each hold 3/4 c, and this recipe produced five servings. Chill until set.
Just use your imagination when it comes to serving. Whether you decide to invert them or not, you can top them with (or use them to top) a sauce, fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate...the possibilities are endless.
Because lemon and raspberry go so well together, I decided to melt a little seedless raspberry jam and stir in a splash of Limoncello, setting them in a pool of that mixture. I had some chile threads in the spice drawer I hadn't tried yet, so that's what looks like saffron on the top, and just for the heck of it, I grated a little lime zest over the whole thing. I was very pleased with the result. :)