One for the ladies

Like a cheesy DJ in a night club, I'd like to shout into a microphone that this dessert goes out to all the lovely ladies. I first made it for my Aunties on their first visit to see me in Chicago last summer and it went down a storm. I just whipped up a batch of six for my friends from England, and it was particularly popular with Claire and Liz.

Panna cotta is an Italian dessert that usually consists of milk, cream, sugar and vanilla mixed with gelatin. It then gets set and turned out onto a dish to serve. This version light, creamy and smooth as silk. Best of all, it stays in the little ramekins rather than bothering to turn them out.

As we're just reaching the end of peach season, this is a perfect tribute to the end of summer. I'm currently in Michigan and the sun has not stopped shining. I have felt extremely lucky that the weather finally decided to cooperate, especially when our best friends from England were visiting. I think Michigan knew it owed us one. When we were up earlier this summer, most of the week was freezing cold and raining.

You can make these panna cottas a day or so in advance- something I'm always looking for when sifting through my recipes. It makes everything so much easier when you get a house full of guests and you want to do anything but spend hours in the kitchen. It also has a wow factor. You can tell you've spent time making it, but you can whip them out of the refrigerator at a moment's notice. Mixing the peaches with lemon thyme and sugar is a perfect topping. If you can't find lemon thyme, you can zest a half a lemon in with the peach mixture.

In the panna cotta mixture, I added rose water and vanilla extract this time instead of almond extract. You could add other flavors to change this up and match it to the fruit you're using, such as real vanilla beans and strawberries for a more traditional version.

Panna Cotta with Lemon-Thyme Peaches
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
Serves 4

1 1/4 tsp unflavored powdered gelatin
2 tbsp water
1 1/4 cups of heavy cream
1 cup of low-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup mild honey
1/8 tsp pure almond extract or vanilla extract with a dash of rose water
1/8 tsp salt

For the peaches:
3 peaches- peeled or un-peeled, pitted and sliced
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon-thyme leaves
(if you can't find lemon thyme, then use regular thyme and a few zests of lemon)

Put the water and the gelatin in a sauce pan and leave for a minute to dissolve. Add the cream and salt and turn the heat on low until the gelatin has dissolved completely.

Whisk together the yogurt, honey and almond extract (or vanilla and rose water) then add it to the cream mixture once it's cooled slightly.

Pour it into 4 small cups or ramekins then chill for at least 8 hours.

When you're ready to serve, prepare the peaches. Mince together the thyme and sugar and mix with the peaches.

Let them sit for about 20 minutes which will make a little sauce. Pour the peaches and their sauce over the top of each ramekin and serve, with a little drizzle of honey if desired.

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