These panna cottas (Italian for cooked cream) are smooth, light and mild molded desserts set off by a bright, intensely flavored cherry compote. The recipe calls for a vanilla bean, which yields the best flavor, but you can use extra vanilla extract instead; just be sure it's top quality. The compote is also delicious spooned over slices of angel food cake or scoops of vanilla frozen yogurt. Recipe by Nancy Baggett for EatingWell.
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 4 and refrigerate for up to 3 days. If desired, thin the compote with 1 tablespoon hot water before serving.
Equipment: Six 3/4-cup custard cups, ramekins or decorative nonreactive molds
Ingredient Note: Kirsch (also called kirschwasser) is clear cherry brandy, commonly used as a flavor enhancer in fondue and cherries jubilee.
Substitution Tip: Increase the vanilla extract in Step 3 to 1 1/2 teaspoons and add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the compote when it is removed from the heat.
Tips: Be sure to measure frozen cherries while still frozen, then thaw. (Drain juice before using.)
To pit a cherry: Halve it with a paring knife then pry out the pit with the tip of the knife or use a cherry pitter, available from Williams-Sonoma at www.williams-sonoma.com, (877) 812-6235.
Find frozen, canned and dried sour cherries at King Orchards, (877) 937-5464, www.kingorchards.com, and The Cherry Stop, (800) 286-7209, www.cherrystop.net.
Note: A nonreactive pan--stainless steel, enamel-coated or glass--is necessary when cooking acidic foods, such as lemon, to prevent the food from reacting with the pan. Reactive pans, such as aluminum and cast-iron, can impart an off color and/or off flavor in acidic foods.
298 calories; protein 6.4g; carbohydrates 49.2g; dietary fiber 1.8g; sugars 44.8g; fat 7.6g; saturated fat 4.7g; cholesterol 28.7mg; vitamin a iu 354.3IU; vitamin c 5.1mg; folate 12.4mcg; calcium 170.5mg; iron 0.4mg; magnesium 21.4mg; potassium 319.8mg; sodium 66.8mg; thiamin 0.1mg.