Horchata Treats for Cinco De Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! This year I decided to make Horchata in honor of the day and then use some of that fresh Horchata to make Horchata Cupcakes topped with Cream Cheese Frosting and sprinkled with cinnamon.

After a few Google searches I decided to make my Horchata as close to “authentic” as possible. I found a recipe that used evaporated milk, one that used rice milk and another that suggested purchasing powdered Horchata mix and mixing it with milk. For authenticity I opted to go the traditional route of blending water with rice until the rice was broken down and then letting the mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I strained the water to get all of the rice bits out and blended it with whole milk, vanilla extract, almond extract (okay, this was a bit of a shortcut since some Horchata recipes call for ground almonds), cinnamon and sugar. Yum!

And then the next day I used the fresh Horchata to make cupcakes that were super moist and had a hint of the Horchata in them. Delish!

Feliz Cinco De Mayo…  May your guacamole be spicy, your margaritas strong and your food delicioso!

 

Horchata

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked long grain white rice

1 quart warm water

1/2 cup whole milk

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar

Cinnamon sticks for serving, optional

Directions:

In a blender combine the rice and water. Blend for about 1 to 2 minutes, until the rice has broken down but does not form a powder. Refrigerate the rice water mixture for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Strain the rice mixture into a container through a fine mesh sieve or several layers of cheesecloth to remove the rice solids.

Transfer the rice water to a blender and add in the milk, vanilla and almond extracts, cinnamon and sugar. Blend for a minute until all of the ingredients are well combines and smooth.

Refrigerate if not serving immediately. When serving, pour over ice with cinnamon sticks as stirrers.

Recipe from The Food Network

 

Horchata Cupcakes

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cups sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Horchata

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 large egg whites

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners.

Cream the butter on high speed and then add in the sugar, continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.

Mix the Horchata, vanilla and cinnamon together, set aside.

Add the flour mixture and the Horchata mixture to the butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating between the flour and Horchata mixture. Beginning and ending with the flour. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites in to the cupcake batter until incorporated.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from The Foodies Kitchen

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

1 8oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sifted Confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Beat the cream cheese and butter together until creamy.

Add in the vanilla extract and continue beating, then gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar.

If not using immediately, store in the refrigerator.

Pumpkin Custards

It’s officially Fall and you know what that means… Bring on the Pumpkin treats! Can I just say it really is amazing (and a bit insane) how pumpkin and pumpkin spice flavor can be found in almost everything! Now, don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkin spice flavor but, I just don’t think I need to have it in everything. Have you seen these Pumpkin Spice Flavored Candy Corn? I’m totally cool with the traditional flavor of candy corn so I really don’t see the need for it being spruced or spiced up with additional flavoring. If anyone has tried them though please let me know how they taste in the comment section below… LOL! There are a few pumpkin flavored items I couldn’t resist trying though… Chobani Flip Yogurt, M&M’s and Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies. All of which were quite tasty in my book. I also purchased some Pumpkin Spice Morsels from Nestle that I can’t wait to bake into cookies. Which leads me to my first pumpkin baked treat of the season… Pumpkin Custards.

To begin to I whisked together heavy cream along with cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg in a medium saucepan and heated it over medium-low heat and warmed the mixture until it began to bubble along the edges and steam. I then removed it from the heat and let it stand for 15 minutes.

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While the cream mixture was cooling, in a large bowl I blended together egg yolks, vanilla extract, salt, pumpkin puree, granulated sugar and light brown sugar until it was smooth.

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Slowly I poured the cream mixture into the egg mixture, and stirred it until it was blended. You don’t want to put the cream into the eggs too quickly because you don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs!

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After straining the mixture through a fine mesh sieve I divided it among 4 ramekins which I placed in a baking pan and filled the pan with boiling water about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. After covering the pan with aluminum foil I baked it in a preheated 300 F oven for about a half hour – until the edges of the custards began to set.

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Once I removed them from the oven I transferred the custards to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. I had a bit of a mishap in transferring them. My wire rack somehow slipped and I ended up losing two of the custards. Thankfully the ramekins didn’t break, but, I was left with a quite a mess to clean-up since the custards hadn’t completely set and ended up splattering everywhere.

After they had cooled I covered them and placed them in the refrigerator and later that evening it was time to enjoy my first pumpkin treat – well, first pumpkin treat that I personally baked – for the season with a topping of whipped cream!

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Pumpkin Custards

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon ginger

3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

5 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

6 tablespoons pumpkin puree

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300 F and boil a pot of water.

Pour the cream into a small saucepan and whisk in the cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg. Heat over medium-low heat and the warm the mixture until bubbles form around the edges and steam begins to rise. Remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes.

In a large bowl blend together the egg yolks, vanilla extract, salt, pumpkin puree, granulated sugar and light brown sugar.  Slowly pour in the cream mixture, stirring until blended. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl. Divide the mixture among four 8 fluid-ounce ramekins and place them in a baking dish. Pour the hot water into the pan about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until the custards are just set around the edges.

Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack to cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

From Williams-Sonoma

Panettone Bread Pudding

Customarily bread pudding is made with day old (or even older) stale bread… I think this where some people get turned off from eating or even trying it. The idea that something has to go “old” to be turned into something delicious is a bit of an oxymoron. Well, if this is what your apprehension is to trying or making bread pudding today I have a recipe for you that uses panettone, an Italian sweet bread along the lines of a fruit cake, but, definitely not as a dense. And since the holidays – yes, I said the “H” word in September – are just around the corner you’ll be seeing those lovely boxes of panettone everywhere soon enough.

To begin I cubed a 2lb. round panettone and spread it on a baking sheet and lightly toasted it in a 350 F oven for 10 minutes. Once cooled I put the cubes in a large bowl.

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In a medium bowl I whisked together eggs, sugar, melted butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract. I then slowly whisked in warmed heavy cream – you don’t want to add the heavy cream too quickly as you may end up with scrambled eggs – and continued whisking the mixture until the sugar had dissolved.

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I poured the egg mixture over the cubed panettone along with some golden raisins.

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After folding all of the ingredients together, making sure that the panettone had soaked in the egg mixture well, I let the mixture stand for 20 minutes.

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Next, I transferred the mixture to a buttered 9 x 13 inch baking dish and baked it in the oven for 30 minutes, covered with aluminum foil. After removing the aluminum foil I baked it for another 10 minutes. After removing it from the oven I let it cool completely on a wire rack.

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Once cooled I transferred it to a cutting board and cut some pretty healthy pieces.

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And while this bread pudding it delicious on its own due to the deliciousness of the panettone itself and the addition of extra raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg it’s even better when warmed and topped with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream!

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Panettone Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

2 lb. round panettone, cut into cubes and lightly toasted

6 eggs

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups heavy cream, warmed

1/2 cup golden raisins

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350 F and butter (you can also use a cooking spray) a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

After the panettone cubes have cooled place them in a large bowl. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract. Slowly whisk in the heavy cream, whisking until the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour the mixture over the panettone cubes, and then add in the raisins. Fold all of the ingredients together and let stand for 20 minutes.

Transfer the panettone mixture to the prepared baking dish and cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 -15 minutes; until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean but is still slightly wet.

Recipe is from a Williams-Sonoma Class

Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Fudge

Peanut Butter & Chocolate… One of my favorite combinations, so when I saw a quick and simple recipe for a marble fudge combining the two in a recent issue of Rachael Ray Magazine, I knew I had to try it.

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In a large bowl I beat peanut butter along with confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract…

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And then dropped the mixture by teaspoonfuls into a foil-lined loaf pan.

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In a medium saucepan I melted dark chocolate chips along with heavy cream.

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I then poured the melted chocolate mixture over the peanut butter mixture and placed it in the refrigerator for a few hours so it could firm up.

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After about fours I removed it from the refrigerator and lifted the fudge out of the pan and sliced it into 18 pieces. Since the peanut butter was still a bit soft I place it in the freezer for about fifteen minutes, enjoyed a piece and then put it back in the refrigerator.

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While this fudge didn’t disappoint in the flavor department I was bit upset about how quickly it would soften/melt once out of the refrigerator for a few minutes. That only meant I had to enjoy this sweet treat immediately after taking one out of the refrigerator!

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Check out some of my previous blog posts with this delicious flavor combination: Peanut Butter & Chocolate Marbled Cookies, Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting and Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream.

Marbled Fudge

Ingredients:

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 oz. cream cheese, softened

3 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

1/3 cup heavy cream

Directions:

1. Line a loaf pan with aluminum foil

2. In a large bowl beat together the peanut butter, sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract until well combined. Drop by teaspoonful into prepared loaf pan.

3. In a medium saucepan melt the chocolate with the heavy cream over medium heat, whisking until smooth. Pour it over the peanut butter mixture and refrigerate for at least four hours.

4. Remove from refrigerator and lift the fudge out of the pan and slice into 18 1-inch squares. If you find the fudge is still soft place in the freezer for a few minutes. Keep refrigerated.

Indian Rice Pudding (Kheer)

There are just some things you can’t resist ordering when you go to certain restaurants; you know you should try something new and exciting but those familiar comforts just always call your name. One of those things for me is a dessert that I always must have when I go to an Indian restaurant: Kheer, i.e. Indian Rice Pudding. It’s more or less like your traditional rice pudding, but, what sets it apart is the addition of cardamom and pistachios. I finally made this delicious treat myself recently when I realized that I had these two key ingredients on hand.

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To begin, I combined a cup of cooked basmati rice with whole milk in a medium-sized saucepan and brought it to a boil. Following that I lowered the heat and simmered the rice and milk until the mixture began to thicken. Next I added in heavy cream, coconut milk, sugar and cardamom and cooked it on medium heat until the mixture began to thicken once again. I then removed the pan from the heat and stirred in pistachios.

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I then transferred the mixture to a dish and placed a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface. After letting it cool for a few minutes I then placed it in the refrigerator.

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Once it was cool I enjoyed a bowl of it and was in heaven. It tasted just like the Kheer I am used to having at my favorite Indian restaurants.

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Indian Rice Pudding

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked long grain or basmati rice

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/3 cup unsalted pistachios, chopped

Directions:

1. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, combined the cooked rice and milk. Heat until the mixture begins to boil. Decrease the heat to low and cook at a simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, stirring frequently, approximately 5 minutes.

2. Increase the heat to medium, add the heavy cream, coconut milk, sugar and cardamom and continue to cook until the mixture just begins to thicken again, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Use a whisk to help prevent the cardamom from clumping.

3. Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove from the heat and stir in the pistachios. Transfer the mixture to a glass dish and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Fall Equinox = Pumpkin Treats

My favorite season has arrived…Fall! There are many reasons why I love this time of the year. There’s the foliage, the apple picking, the concord grapes, all the different types of squashes available at the supermarket, the great hair days (the crisp cool air of the Fall is perfect for curly hair), the return of scarves (they are my third favorite accessory behind shoes and handbags) and one of my favorite flavors – Pumpkin – becomes available in just about anything and everything! So, I decided to welcome Fall this year with two pumpkin treats – a new recipe, Pumpkin Rice Pudding and an oldie (but goodie) from last year, Pumpkin Doughnuts.

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I don’t think I know anyone who likes rice pudding as much as I do, or for that matter I am not sure I know anyone who likes it period. I guess it’s like bread pudding, you either like it or you don’t. I actually did try my hand at a Pumpkin Bread Pudding a few years ago but wasn’t all that thrilled with the minimal pumpkin flavor it had. Maybe I’ll have to revisit that recipe one day soon, but, back to the rice pudding. I came across this recipe while flipping through the circulars of my Sunday newspaper. The recipe was specific for Minute Rice, but, since I didn’t have any and honestly didn’t want to buy any I decided to revamp the recipe using Arborio rice which I already had on hand from make rice pudding not too long ago.

I began by cooking the rice until it was al dente, about 15 minutes.

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In another saucepan I combined evaporated milk, pumpkin, dark brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract and brought it to a simmer.

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I then added the rice to pumpkin mixture and cooked it over low heat until the mixture started to thicken. I then transferred the rice pudding to a large bowl and cooled it to room temperature before refrigerating it.

Since I had about 2 cups of pumpkin left I decided to whip up a batch of pumpkin doughnuts so it wouldn’t go to waste. Hopefully I won’t suffer from pumpkin over-load too early in the season!

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So, what’s the most out-of-the-box pumpkin flavor item you have seen on your store shelves?

Pumpkin Arborio Rice Pudding (Adapted from here and here)

Ingredients:

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Arborio rice

1 12oz. can evaporated milk

1 cup pure pumpkin

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Bring water and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Add the rice, return to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Stir the rice occasionally and cook until the rice has absorbed the water but is still al dente, about 15 minutes.

2. In another saucepan, bring the evaporated milk, pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract to a simmer. Add the cooked rice and cook at a simmer over medium-low heat until the rice absorbs most of the milk mixture and it starts to get thick and silky, about 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Transfer the pudding to a large bowl and cool to room temperature. Place in refrigerator until cool and set.

Pumpkin Doughnuts

Makes 12

Ingredients:

1/2 cup canola oil, plus more for the pans

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup pure pumpkin puree

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly oil two 6-compartment doughnut pans (or use 1 pan and bake in batches). Whisk together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined (do not overmix).

3. Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each compartment of the prepared pans. Bake until the doughnuts are golden brown and spring back lightly when touched, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sweet Corn Panna Cotta with Blueberry Compote

I recently signed up for Food & Wine Magazine’s Daily email where I get one sensational (their words not mine) recipe emailed to me every day. I usually glance at the recipe and then delete the email, not because the dish sounds bad, but because I know I will never make it. A week or two ago I got one recipe that I knew I wanted to try… A Sweet Corn Panna Cotta with Fresh Blueberry Compote. I had panna cotta for dessert at a restaurant a few years ago and instantly loved it; granted that one was a Mango Panna Cotta with a Passion Fruit Sauce. I never attempted to make it myself because I thought that it would be difficult – the one recipe I came across was a bit intimidating but once I saw this one I knew I could handle it.

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I began my shucking two ears of corn and then used a corn zipper to remove the kernels and boiled them for about 15 minutes until they were tender.

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Following that I rinsed the kernels in cold water and then transferred them into the bowl of my food processor.

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Meanwhile I sprinkled 1 1/2 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin powder over 1/4 cup of whole milk, which I let stand for 5 minutes.

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In a small saucepan I combined whole milk, heavy cream, salt, granulated sugar, and dark brown sugar and brought it to a simmer over medium heat whisking it to dissolve the sugars.

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I then poured the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the gelatin mixture and stirred it until the gelatin dissolved.

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I then poured the mixture over the corn in the food processor.

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I pureed the corn and milk mixture until it was smooth and then strained it through a sieve pressing on the solids to get all of the liquid out and then discarded the solids.

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I strained the mixture once again through the sieve and then placed the bowl in an ice bath until it was cool, stirring it occasionally.

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And finally I divided the mixture into four 8-ounce ramekins, covered them and placed them in the refrigerator overnight so they could set. In all honesty, I had my doubts that I made the panna cotta correctly because it was so watery when I poured it into the ramekins. I checked one of them an hour or so after refrigerating it to make sure it was solidifying and I am happy to say I had made them correctly!

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While the panna cotta was “baking” in the fridge I made the Blueberry Compote which couldn’t have been simpler. I combined blueberries with sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and kosher salt and mixed it until the sugar was dissolved and then let it stand for a bit (at least 30 minutes), stirring it occasionally.

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The set panna cotta…

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And topped with the Blueberry Compote.

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This was absolutely delicious! The panna cotta was the perfect texture, silky and smooth, and the corn flavor was just perfect without being too sweet or having too much of a “vegetable” taste, for those of you who aren’t keen on eating your veggies.

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Sweet Corn Panna Cotta with Fresh Blueberry Compote

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Panna Cotta

2 ears of corn, husked

1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk

1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Blueberry Compote

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Pinch of kosher salt

1 1/2 cups blueberries

Directions: 

1. Make the Panna Cotta: In a medium pot fitted with a steamer basket, steam the corn until tender, 15 minutes. Let cool, then cut the kernels from the cobs (you should have 1 1/2 cups); discard the cobs. Transfer the kernels to a blender.*

2. Meanwhile, in a heatproof medium bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup of the milk. Let stand for 5 minutes.

3. In a small skillet, combine the remaining 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of milk with the cream, salt and both sugars and bring to a bare simmer, whisking to dissolve the sugars. Scrape the hot milk into the gelatin and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Pour the mixture into the blender over the corn and puree until smooth.

4. Strain the puree through a sieve into a large bowl, pressing on the solids; discard the solids. Strain again without pressing; discard any solids in the sieve. Set the panna cotta in an ice bath until cool, stirring occasionally. Scrape the panna cotta into four 8-ounce ramekins. Cover and refrigerate overnight until firm.

5. Make the Blueberry Compote: In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Let stand for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve the panna cotta in the ramekins with the compote.

*I opted to remove the kernels from the cobs beforehand and boiled the corn for about 15 minutes and then drained it while running them under cold water to cool them. And instead of using a blender, I used a food processor.