When we say caramel popcorn panna cotta we do not just mean panna cotta that we’ve topped with popcorn. Although that is a perfectly fine option because the crunch of the popcorn and the creaminess of the cooked custard make such a good combination. And because panna cotta texture is a little firm, the popcorn will not get soggy. The result? Caramel popcorn panna cotta!
But as delicious as that would be, we’ve gone further because we’re extra around here. Or at least we take our love of popcorn to an extra level. We made the milk, a key ingredient in the panna cotta, taste like popcorn. Evil genius stuff, right? But actually super easy.
Making “popcorn milk” adds some time but very little work. We steep the popcorn inside whole milk, let the flavors meld together overnight and then strain. Viola – milk that tastes like popcorn! You can, of course, skip this step and just use regular whole milk. Still fabulous, just a little less popcorn-ey.
As for the panna cotta (Italian for cooked cream) itself, if you’ve only ever ordered it for dessert in fancy restaurants and not tried to make it yourself, we have good news. It’s so easy to do! The key to making the milk and cream set is unflavored gelatin powder which is available in the baking or seasoning section of pretty much every supermarket. Maybe you’ve never noticed it but you’ll keep it in your pantry at all times after trying this recipe.
The rest is just milk and cream and sugar and salt. When you’re done with the short cooking time, you’ll think you got it wrong. It won’t look set at all. But give the refrigerator a few hours to work its magic and that gelatin will bind to the dairy and produce a firm, sweet custard. That same heavenly texture you’ve been paying top dollar for at restaurants and gourmet stores will now be coming out of your own fridge. You’re going to make this again and again, we just know it.
To make the popcorn milk, add the 2 cups of whole milk to a pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the cup of popped popcorn, cook for 1 minute and remove from the heat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to cool.
When the milk has cooled, place in the fridge overnight. The next day, strain out the popcorn and use the milk in the panna cotta recipe.
To make the panna cotta, add 1 1/2 cups of the popcorn milk and the unflavored gelatin powder to a pot and bring to a low simmer, stirring often.
Add the granulated sugar and salt and continue stirring until the gelatin and sugar have dissolved.
Stir in the heavy cream and cook, on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes. The mixture will start to look slightly thicker on the edges but mostly will remain very runny.
Pour the mixture into 4 dessert glasses. Cover lightly with some plastic wrap and allow to cool. When cool, place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. The mixture will set.
To serve, drizzle on some caramel sauce, top with popcorn and sprinkle on some of the salted caramel seasoning.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
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