So it turns out that non-alcoholic coquito is a pretty fantastic cure to cocktail envy when you aren't allowed to/don't want to imbibe anything with a bit of kick in it. I've been whipping up batches of this creamy goodness every so often (which for now I can chalk up to baby weight, but which I'm sure I'll have to find another excuse for in the next few months) and thorough relishing sipping it oh-so-slowly over crushed ice. Seriously, if you're not drooling at the mere thought of this, there is clearly something fundamentally wrong with you.
Recently my thoughts have also been inundated with thoughts of desserts - cookies, cream, berries, chocolate - you name it, it's made a brief (or not-so-brief) appearance in my recent culinary dreams. I guess it's good that my laziness has prevented me from actually whipping up all of these lavish ideas, but I made up for it over the weekend by making not one but two desserts to satisfy my inner glutton.
The first was this ultra-creamy pana cotta - made with coquito, no less - served up with a freshly made batch of strawberry compote. Now I've never been a huge berry fan, but recent years have seen me change first my attitude towards the fresh berries - hello strawberry picking farm! - and secondly towards berry-based drinks, bakes, desserts and even mains.
Which brought me to the rather sobering realisation that I've been missing out big time. Especially considering the relatively limited berry season we have here at the southern tip of Africa. Epic fail. So when I spied those first strawberries of the season during my weekly food-foraging foray into the supermarket, well, I guess you could say that all resistance crumbled.
And I'm not one to blow my own horn (*cough*), but da-yum! This pana cotta was goooooooooooooooood. And the slightly warm strawberry compote (which really, is just a fancy word for stewed fruit plus syrup) spooned over the top? I wish I'd made more of that to eat as is - greedily and without shame - directly from the pan. And is it pure coincidence that the perfect foil to a tongue half-burnt from too-hot fruit is a cool creamy delicately-spiced pana cotta? Yup, guilty as charged.
PS: The second sweet treat I made over the weekend were some cookies featuring a touch of citrus and poppy seeds. And if you shout long and hard enough I might just kick my ass into gear and actually take photos of those to share them with you as well. Because really they are the perfect little thing(s - who are we kidding?) to nibble on with your morning cuppa.
Coquito Pana Cotta with Strawberry Compote
A Creative Pot original
1 cup (250ml) cream
2 cups (500ml) virgin coquito*
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp (15ml) gelatine
2/3 plain yogurt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
For the strawberry compote:
250g strawberries, plus extra to garnish (optional)
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
*i.e leave out the rum
1. Heat cream, coquito and sugar in a large saucepan, stirring until sugar has melted and liquid starts to bubble gently.
2. Take pan off the heat and sprinkle gelatine over, stirring quickly to ensure it dissolves evenly. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then stir yogurt and spices through.
3. Strain and pour into individual molds, then place in the fridge to set.
4. Meanwhile, make the strawberry compote, by hulling the strawberries and cutting the larger ones in half. Place in a saucepan with the icing sugar and lemon juice and cook until the strawberries have just started to soften - a lovely strawberry syrup will have formed from the juices. Allow to cool down.
5. Remove the pana cottas from their molds and spoon the strawberry compote over. Add a few slices of fresh strawberries on the side if you wish and serve.
Of course you're more than welcome to make this with the rum-laced original version of coquito - I'm pretty sure it would taste even more fabulous than it already did!