My son Nick announced he was moving to Montreal for a while; upon receiving the news I first did what any self-respecting (Lebanese) mother would have done: I told him in no uncertain terms that he was GOING TO KILL ME.
When that failed to ignite the slightest spark of guilt, I asked “ what do you want to eat for your good-bye meal and dessert?”
He said: “Just make me that cherry and milk panna cotta, that’s my favorite of all the desserts you make”.
“…You mean that thing I make in a few minutes a couple of times a week? ” (it gets consumed faster than anything else)
For the milk panna cotta or muhallabiyeh:
- 3 cups of milk
- 2 generous spoonfuls of Puck or any other cheese spread
- 6 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 3 Tablespoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla or orange blossom or rose water or a combination of two of those
For the cherry jelly:
- 2 cups of sour cherry nectar
- 1 package of organic frozen cherries
- 1/2 cup of sugar or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon of agar-agar in powder
- Start with the cherry jelly because it will jell in about 2 hours in the fridge if you use agar-agar. Thaw the package of frozen cherries and add to the sour cherry nectar; in a saucepan, bring the mixture to a simmer, add the sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Sprinkle the 1/2 teaspoon of agar-agar on the mixture and stir, bring to a rolling boil and boil for one minute or so. Turn off the heat, let it cool a bit and pour into the servings glasses and place in the fridge.
- Take a break for a couple of hours (by then the cherry layer will be solid) and start making the milk panna cotta or muhallabiyeh. Heat the milk (minus one cup used to dissolve the cornstarch) and the puck spread, add the sugar and stir to dissolve and mix all the ingredients.
- As soon as the milk mixture starts steaming, add the cornstarch that has been previously dissolved in the one remaining cup of milk. Stir continuously for a couple of minutes until the mixture is thicker. Remove from the heat and pour, through a strainer, into a measuring glass. Divide the mixture equally into the serving glasses on top of the cherry jello. Cool in the fridge for a few hours. Serve.
PUCK is a creamy cheese spread, made in Denmark and sold at the middle-eastern groceries. Its taste is close to Philadelphia cream cheese but the texture is creamier, not so dense.
Agar-Agar can be found in Asian markets or online.
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