Buttermilk Eggnog Panna Cotta

Serves 6

1 cup buttermilk
2 cups eggnog (regular, not the “light” variety.  I mean really, why bother?)
1 T unflavored gelatine

Place 1/4c buttermilk and the gelatine in a small saucepan and stir over low heat to dissolve the gelatine slowly.  Remove from heat.

In another saucepan place remaining buttermilk and eggnog and bring to a boil, being careful not to let it boil over.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in gelatine mixture.  Strain into a glass measuring bowl with a pour spout (or something similar) and allow to cool a bit.  Pour into lightly greased (Pam works fine) ramekins and refrigerate until set, approximately 3 hours.

When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge and invert panna cotta into your hand and then onto a plate.  Serve alone or with caramelized sugar (see below), preserves, caramel sauce, rum sauce, caramel sauce with rum, preserves with rum, nutmeg, nutmeg with rum…you get the picture.

* Caramelized sugar: Heat 1 cup sugar with about 1/8 cup water, swirling the saucepan rather than stirring.  Use a pastry brush dipped in water to constantly wash down the sides to prevent crystallization.  Allow sugar to heat slowly, but watch it carefully — it’s a fine line between golden caramel and dark brown garbage (reminds me of a YouTube video I once saw where this girl pretending to be an expert was “teaching” how to make caramelized sugar decorations, but her caramel was the color of dark chocolate, totally burned; to people’s comments about her burned sugar she simply replied “it’s a dark, rich caramel” rather than admitting she blew it and was just too lazy to do it over.  Face it.  If you can’t easily see through your caramel to the bottom of your pot, you burned it.  It’s just a cup of sugar.  Do it over.)

Anyway, heat your caramel and then let it cool a bit.  Take a spoonful and drizzle a long line across either a piece of parchment paper or a silpat mat.  If it beads rather than creates a smooth, continuous stream, it’s too hot.  Wait until it works, and then do it again — you can always reheat the saucepan if it cools too much.  Make long lines in both directions, creating a crosshatch pattern…or make squiggles…whatever.  Avoid huge pools of caramel…long pieces taste the same and look way cooler.   Allow to cool, break into pieces, and garnish your panna cotta.  Do not try to make the caramel more than a few hours ahead of time, as it tends to soften and absorb the moisture in the air.

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