A coconut-covered lamb cake sure would be cute right about now, but guess who’d end up eating most of it? Moi. So this year for our spring entertaining, I’m thinking about making Greek Yogurt panna cotta with raspberry sauce. These are cute in their own way, and so good for you they almost shouldn’t be called a dessert. The milk (nonfat!) mellows out the (nonfat!) Greek yogurt’s tang, and the gelatin transforms it all into a giggly, eggless custard. Top with a zingy raspberry purée, and I don’t think anyone will miss the lamb cake. (But I’ll keep some chocolate bunnies on hand just in case.)
Old-world panna cotta is experiencing a renaissance these days, and for good reason. This no-bake, gluten-free dessert is a giggly blank canvas for seasonal flavors and embellishments, from rhubarb compote to gingerbread crumbles. Sounds fancy, but panna cotta is really just barely-sweetened Jell-O made with cream (or milk or Greek yogurt) instead of water. Since it must be made ahead (in order to set up in the fridge), panna cotta perfect for entertaining. Busy restaurants love it for this reason as well.
Back in 1999, when I was voted one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs, I began experimenting with all kinds of different flavorings, shapes and toppings for panna cotta.