There’s been a special aroma wafting through the garden this past week, and I have the delicate sprays of blossoms studding my old-growth lilac bush to thank for it. That sweet scent brings back memories of all the lilac syrup I enjoyed this time last year—from drizzling it in a bit of sparkling wine to iced tea to a medley of different lattes, it’s hard to go wrong with this subtle floral flavor. Because of how well it went with milk in the latte situation, though, I wanted to pair it with something creamy again. So I went with one of my favorite desserts, and decided to make a lilac panna cotta.
I love panna cotta for a few reasons:
- It’s very easy
- It tastes good with pretty much everything
- You can make it ahead of time and serve it chilled whenever
To infuse the flavor of the lilac into the panna cotta, you just heat up the cream and milk together until they’re very warm. Then, you stir in some lilac blossoms and let it sit for an hour before straining the liquid out, and you use that liquid as the base for the lilac panna cotta. It’s pretty simple stuff, and results in an absolutely delicious dessert that tastes like spring concentrate.
While I haven’t been eating much dairy lately, I did make a special exception for this stuff, and I will readily admit that nothing can replace the flavor of chilled heavy cream and the way it melts in your mouth and coats your tongue. Boy, did I miss that.
On another note, I hope you’re enjoying the longer days and savoring some time in nature, if you’re able. Every day I thank the earth for the garden, it’s been such an escape for me from all the wild things going on in the world around us. For a few hours, everything feels right and normal, and I can just put my hands in the dirt, smell the lilacs on the wind, and listen to the birds sharing their sweet spring songs. There’s simply nothing else like it. <3
Lilac Panna Cotta
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup fresh lilac blossoms pulled clean from the stem
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat the cream and milk in a small pot over low heat until very warm but *not* hot. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the blossoms. Allow to cool to room temperature, then strain through a mesh strainer placed over a bowl, pressing gently on the blossoms to get all the liquid out. Discard the blossoms, reserving the lilac-infused cream mixture.
- In a very small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Place over low heat and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat the lilac-infused cream mixture and the honey in a small saucepan over low heat until hot but *not* boiling. Remove pan from heat and stir in the gelatin and vanilla extract and stir until the gelatin dissolves completely.
Evenly divide between 6 8-ounce mason jars or 12 4-ounce mason jars and allow to cool to room temperature before covering with a lid and placing in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve chilled. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.