Esther Tabert is a second-year student at Stratford Chefs School with a strong interest in food writing and styling. Her recipe appealed to me because it was a sweet take on her mother’s love of chamomile tea. “For as long as I can remember,” Tabert recalls, “my mom has stopped her work at 3 p.m. every day to have chamomile tea and an almond cookie. This dessert is inspired by those tea breaks.”
Panna cotta, a simple jelled, flavoured cream, is an easy and exceptional dessert. It will add a touch of grace to any dinner party – or you can savour it at 3 p.m. with a cup of tea! For a variation, you can use other flavoured teas, such as Earl Grey. You may also want to infuse your honey with lavender or rosewater. If you would like larger servings, divide mixture into four.
- 2 cups cold milk
- 1 tablespoon unflavoured powdered gelatin
- 1/2 cup loose-leaf chamomile tea or 8 chamomile teabags
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup peeled almonds, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
Pour 1/4 cup milk over gelatine in a small container. Set aside. The gelatine should bloom (double in bulk).
Bring chamomile and remaining milk to boil in a medium-sized pot over high heat. Once boiled, remove from heat and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain out chamomile leaves or tea bags and discard.
Add cream, sugar and lemon rind to the chamomile milk and return pot to medium heat. Stir occasionally until mixture feels hot to the touch and all the sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes). Add gelatine mixture and stir until well combined. Pour into a bowl and let sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure gelatine is absorbed.
Pour mixture into 6 small greased dessert cups, espresso cups or panna cotta moulds. Divide mixture into 6 and fill each mould. Refrigerate until the centre jiggles and is no longer liquid (at least 2 hours). I usually leave mine overnight.
Preheat oven to 300 F. Place chopped almonds in a medium-sized bowl and reserve. Cream together butter and sugar by hand until smooth. Add flour and salt and mix until thoroughly incorporated. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky.
Scoop out 1 rounded teaspoon of dough and form it into a ball. Roll in chopped almonds to completely cover. Place ball on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the dough is rolled. Press down lightly on each ball to make flat discs. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until almost cooked through. Leave on baking sheet to cool. They will finish cooking through while cooling.
Remove panna cotta from moulds by placing the moulds in warm water for about 30 seconds or until panna cotta just starts to melt around the edges. Run a knife along the edge and turn out. Place each on a small plate, drizzle with honey and serve with almond cookies. If removing the panna cotta is too tricky, garnish and serve in the moulds.