Milk and Cherry pudding

May 23, 2010  •  Category:


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)

“Oh, OK”.


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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


75 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Bria @ WestofPersia says:

    Truly gorgeous. As I often say, sometimes the simplest things are the best, and the nearest and dearest to our hearts.

  2. A Canadian Foodie says:

    It is panna cotta season – and this looks like a dreamy treat. Thanks for that and Montreal is a gorgeous place to visit! Have you been? You will love it!

  3. Ellie (Almost Bourdain) says:

    Stunning looking dessert. Love the flavour 🙂

  4. peter says:

    Be comforted in knowing that your son will be at home with a large Lebanese community in Montreal. He won’t find any food as comforting or as delicious as mom’s but he’ll feel welcome.

    Did you know Montreal is only 300 miles from Toronto? 😉

  5. Rosa says:

    Such a pretty dessert! A mouthwatering combination.



  6. john@heneedsfood says:

    Pannacotta is one of my favourites and this one looks heavenly

  7. citronetvanille says:

    Oh que c’est beau! en plus une version beaucoup plus légère que la panna cotta traditionnelle! superbe idée! Je ne savais pas que tu avais de grands enfants (enfin assez grands pour vivre seuls)…ils ont une très jolie maman, jeune et qui n plus cuisine à merveille!

  8. Marc @ NoRecipes says:

    Mmmmm that looks wonderful! One of my favorite flavors of yogurt is cherry, so I can just imagine how wonderful the combo is as a creamy panna cotta.

  9. Sushma Mallya says:

    Panna cotta looks very beautiful…i have not had this even once but looking at this i really feel like trying it as soon as possible..

  10. Ivy says:

    You sound just like a Greek mama 🙂 No wonder this disappears in no time. It looks delicious and I prefer this cream than the traditional panacotta and make it often as well.

  11. suzan says:

    Yummy. I want to do this as soon as I can. Looks delicioso!!

  12. SYLVIA says:

    This is heaven in a cup, creamy, smooth, comforting pudding recipe, that comforts your nerves, until you lick your plate clean.
    It is hard for any mom to see her baby leave her warm nest, and embark a new venture in life. Joumana you have raised your son for this moment of departure, and are very proud of him, let him dream big, chase his dreams, and protect his dreams.
    I wish him good fortune, and lots of success in his path.

  13. from BA to Paris says:

    I happened to drop by your blog…I just love it. I have a lot of respect for the Lebanese tradition, culinary culture. One of my best friends is a Swedish girl that lives in Beirut, and she always tells me stories about it…Then, I share your reaction about your son =D and I thought that your word “Teta” must have influenced the Spanish informal word “teta” for a woman’s breast…there must be a connection with the woman that looks after and nourishes a child…
    Finally, I love panna cotta!!

  14. Vanessa says:

    I just love panna cotta and cherries as well. It must be sad for you with the idea of your son moving away but I guess you’ll just have to go and visit. I bet he won’t be able to stay away too long either with your cooking.

  15. Katerina says:

    Now that I am a mom I can understand the feeling. It is always very difficult to let go of your child. I am sure though that everything will be ok for him. This panna cotta will definitely remind him of the goodies he can find at his home.

  16. Heavenly Housewife says:

    What an elegant desert, it looks so pretty.

  17. Angie's Recipes says:

    I want to try some! Look so creamy and yummy!

  18. sab says:

    must be really nice to serve and to eat

  19. pIERRE says:

    salut joumana
    le temps des cerises est arivé !! merci joumana pour ta recette big bizz de paris ensoleillé !! Pierre

  20. deana says:

    Love cherries.. just love them. I have never heard of this Puck stuff though, can you use cream cheese instead???

  21. Nadji says:

    Un dessert comme je les aime.
    Cela fait une éternité que je n’ai pas fait de mouhallabiyeh.
    J’enregistre pour bientôt.
    Bonne semaine.

  22. Malar Gandhi says:

    Looks awesome. Love it.

  23. Nadege says:

    It looks lovely and light! Perfect on a hot day.

  24. Simply Life says:

    Wow that looks like the perfect thing to enjoy this time of year!

  25. Sridevi says:

    yummy dessert. Love this combo of colors…Very nice picture..

  26. Amy @ cookbookmaniac says:

    This looks so amazing! I am gobsmacked that something this simple can be so beautiful and delicious. Thank goodness for mothers!

  27. Barbara says:

    I’ve loved panna cottas for years and there are so many possibilities! I make an herbed panna cotta that is divine. The cherries with your recipe make such a great presentation…the white with the red. Lucky son! Montreal AND a loving mama!

  28. Erica says:

    LOL! We love our kids 🙂 This looks amazing. Love cherries …Creamy and delicious dessert.

  29. Crystal says:

    I love panna cotta and this looks great and simple too. My cherry tree is full of still green cherries, but soon I’ll be able to make this with my own cherries.

  30. elra says:

    Thank you Joumana, I have to really look to that cheese. Love muhallabiyeh, never made it myself yet, but tasted this mostly in Jerusalem. I should really try to make my own. Thanks for the recipe!

  31. Susan says:

    What does agar-agar do?? is it like xanthan-gum? I hope I can find it in here (I am Lebanese living in Qatar)
    If I cant find it, can I use something instead?
    Thanks a lot for the amazing recipes, I cant wait to try this!

    • Joumana says:

      Agar-agar is a natural product; it comes from an algae and Japan. You can find it in any Asian market, online, on Thai products online, etc; if not, simply substitute gelatin; the technique for using gelatin is different; you will first soften the gelatin in liquid and for a few seconds over hot water or in the microwave; the quantity of gelatin needed will be more (agar-agar has 9 times the power of gelatin to gel ingredients); follow package directions or ask me what quantity you will be using. Bye Susan, Take care.

  32. Juliana says:

    Wow, never had pannacotta with cheese, and you know what I love this cheese spread, I always buy them at the local Mideastern grocery…what a great presentation you have here Joumana…yummie!

  33. Nadia says:

    I went to Grad School in Montreal, and the Lebanese community is thriving there.

    Your son has good tastes in dessert and an even better mother for coming up with such delicious delights.

    In Pakistan, we always have Puck at the breakfast table. It has a great flavor, tangier than regular cream cheese.

    Gorgeous dessert, as usual, Joumana.

    PS Your new pic is gorgeous. You look so chic, like a Parisian model!

  34. 5 Star Foodie says:

    What a heavenly dessert! I love the sour cherry flavor!

  35. Joanne says:

    Sons…what are you going to do with them! Can’t live with em or without em. I like your response though. And this dessert!

  36. Nathalie says:

    Une très belle recette en toute simplicité.

  37. Sasa says:

    YOU are going to kill ME ;P Or maybe not, this actually looks pretty healthy…It’s is so pretty and I love anything with cherries.

  38. recettes gourmandes says:

    halala que c’est beau et belle présentation, bravo joumana et gros bisou

  39. Karolina says:

    i love sour cherries, but they difficult to get hold of where I live. Never tried them with panna cotta and it is a shame, because it is one of my favourite desserts. Looks delicious on your pictures. Good night! 🙂

  40. Faith says:

    My hubby adores Puck and I adore cherries so this beatiful dessert is perfect for us! What a lovely goodbye dessert for your son.

  41. Devaki says:

    Dear Joumana – Gorgeous! Isn’t it amazing that what we remember most and what stays with us is not the fancy elaborate meals but the simple pleasures that are eaten often – cooked by Mum.

    Nick going to Montreal…shish! I feel your pain. Wait till my boys grow up – I’ll probably have tears running down the monitor as I blog 🙂

    Simply delicious!

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  42. Kristen says:

    Too bad the guilt thing didn’t work 😉 but I presume you knew that before you tried it. I have some agar-agar in the pantry but have been waiting for some inspiration to give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration, this looks delish!

  43. TastyTrix says:

    You are hilarious!! Well, I am sure he will be a good boy. I love that you just toss this off a couple of times a week, you are too much. (In a good way!)

  44. Krista says:

    I’m Danish but I’ve never heard of Puck! I will have to search that out right away. 🙂 What a gorgeous dessert, Joumana. 🙂 Can’t wait to try it!! Hope you have a wonderful time with your son before he jets off. 🙂

  45. Priya says:

    Wat an elegant and cute dessert!

  46. grace says:

    talk about a bittersweet occasion! i hope you won’t miss him too powerfully much. at least you’re sending him off with one heck of a memory of a last treat–this looks amazing!

  47. Rajani says:

    i will so totally die if my daughter were to mention the words “leaving home” ever! lovely dessert 🙂

  48. asia jo says:

    Darling – this dessert looks so pretty – I’m drooling over it 🙂 xxx

  49. yasmeen says:

    That looks heavenly,sure bookmarked to try for when luscious red cherries start showing in markets here 😀

  50. Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    I LOVE cherries, on my top 5 fruits ever. Will have to check out those loquats. Just got back from Toronto (so many feeds to catch up on) and got teo exotic fruits there…post to come. BTW if you come to Montreal or want someone to check on your son…that is where I live 😉

  51. Kitchen Butterfly says:

    Oh I laughed so hard – its what my mother (Nigerian) would have said – you want to kill me. I see Puck so often at the Turkish shop but have never bought it. Superb to know I can use it in something so delish. Take care

  52. FOODESSA says:

    This dessert looks so elegant. Truthfully though…I’m personally not a fan of any type of panna cotta…I’ve never been attracted to eating it. I am, however trilled for your son who gets spoiled by his Mommy!
    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

  53. Mimi says:

    What a simple and elegant dessert. Thanks for showing pictures of the products that you use it is very helpful when I go shopping, I know what I am looking for.

  54. Grapefruit says:

    Your panna cottas are beautiful!
    If I were your son, they’d be enough to bribe me into staying! 😉

  55. Esther Cervantes says:

    I just tried this today, and it was delicious! It was my first time cooking with agar agar, though, and I could only find it in squares, so that was a little harrowing.

  56. cmiranda says:

    Cherries have finally made thier appearance in the markets here just in time for making this recipe.

  57. Mary says:

    That is a beautiful dessert, and I can see why it is a family favourite! I’ll have to look for something similar to Puck cheese–maybe spreadable or whipped cream cheese? Montreal is a fantastic food city, so I hope you come and visit! It’s only a couple of hours from me, and I love to go and eat (and shop)!!

  58. domi says:

    Bonjour Joumana, quelle terrible petite verrine, quelle élégance, vraiment de toute beauté un dessert en habits de fêtes, bisous et passe une bonne journée

  59. Shilpa Sharma says:

    How very simple and elegant….I’ll have to make this one weekend…beautifiul pictures…

  60. Sonja says:

    I love this as much as your citrus cream recipe – they are both SO good, thank you!

Add a Comment