Monday, June 28, 2010

Trader Joe's peach and blueberry panna cotta

Although I have been and, alas alack, continue to be, on a diet, I finally gave in a few weeks ago at my local (Brookline, Massachusetts) Trader Joe's and bought their sinful peach and blueberry panna cotta (Italian for cooked cream). I had already noticed it long before, but held out, rather heroically. Then, upon a close examination of its not prohibitive calorie count or price, I took the bold step of purchasing a package. About three dollars for two servings, and 270 calories per portion.

I coldly calculated that I could have one (just one, and nothing else) for breakfast, having defrosted it overnight in the fridge. What happened is that I woke (I wonder why) at four am that morning, and remembered (I wonder how) that there was a now-defrosted peach and blueberry panna cotta in the refrigerator. I proceeded (in my jammies) to remove it from its container by turning it upside down and squishing the bottom a bit. Delectable.

Since then, diet or no diet, I have brazenly purchased it again. Once, I must confess, I got home from Brookline in the evening and did not even wait to defrost it. I hurriedly boiled some water in a small pot and dunked the container in, an impromptu bain marie. It's that good.

Yes, folks. This will suit a) you b) your guests, if you are that altruistic (which I doubt.) If you are indeed so noble as to leave it for others, properly defrost, carefully run a wet, sharp knife along the interior edge, then upturn and gingerly place on small plate. Some of the yummy topping will cling to the bottom. Resist the urge to eat it yourself; spoon carefully on top of dessert, in its proper blueberry or peach place.

Now I know that many, even most of you who are reading this are not within easy reach of a Trader Joe's. You are probably feeling frustrated and angry by now. Do not despair. You can make your own panna cotta. It's not that hard! But it's harder than buying two of them at the store for three dollars!

A recipe can be found here. I advise use of the gelatin sheet alternative he proposes. There are many other recipes on the Web. I myself am a purist, and like to keep the panna cotta portion unflavored (not counting the vanilla), with a fruity, seasonal topping of my choice. Berries are excellent.