Beet Panna Cotta with Candied Black Sesame Seeds
Why This Recipe Works
by Sasha Marx
We wanted to showcase the natural sugar content of beets by making them the feature ingredient in a sweet dessert. (If you prefer to end a meal on a more savory note, try our Beet Kvass and Campari Granita.) Panna cotta (“cooked cream”) is a classic Italian dessert in which sweetened cream and a little milk are thickened with gelatin. A good panna cotta should have the texture of a light custard—barely set when chilled. For this recipe, we first process beets to a pulp in the food processor and then wring the pulp through cheesecloth to release the beet juice. We substitute that beet juice for some of the dairy in the panna cotta base, which is then gently heated with a small amount of sugar and gelatin. We add buttermilk to give the base a little tang and then portion it into bowls and chill it to set the gelatin. For an optional crunchy, no-waste garnish, we take the leftover beet pulp and dry it in the oven before tossing it with candied black sesame seeds and flaky sea salt. The finished dessert has a beautiful silky texture and subtle sweetness from the beets, and it pairs really well with the smoky caramel notes of the black sesame brittle. This make-ahead dessert is a dinner party showstopper.
Photography by Steve Klise