BeautyBerry Panna Cotta
40 Min

BeautyBerry Panna Cotta

If we are open to surprises, there are plenty along the way and never a dull moment in life. I spent a couple of weeks at a ranch in nearby Navasota and discovered beautyberries, a native wild Texas plant that blooms in late summer.

Beautyberries are all over Texas, on roadsides, in forests — their stunning pungent purple berries forming brilliant large clusters. Native Americans use these berries, their roots and stems for many medicinal purposes from mosquito repellents to stomach ailments. The raw berries are slightly sweet and astringent in flavor.

At the ranch, I topped off my salads and quinoa pilafs with beautyberries and drank tea made from the leaves to prevent mosquito bites. Often used to make jellies and wine, they are also commonly planted in landscape designs to attract wild bird species including cardinals, mockingbirds, finches and woodpeckers. Combined with roasted corn and cinnamon, their flavor in this panna cotta is haunting, mild yet delicious.

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Cook Time

40 Minutes



Step 1
Remove the berries from the stems and rinse them thoroughly. Drain and set aside.
Step 2
Roast the ears of corn over an open gas fire or outdoor grill. Remove the kernels, reserving the cobs — it should amount to roughly 1 1/2 cups.
Step 3
Combine the cream, milk, maple syrup, corn kernels and cobs, and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Turn the heat off, let the mixture infuse for 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 4
While still warm, discard the corn cobs and whisk in the gelatin powder. Cool for another 10 to 12 minutes, until warm to the touch but not hot.
Step 5
Combine the mixture with one cup drained beautyberries, pinch of salt, and purée in a blender until smooth.
Step 6
Strain and pour into six 3 to 4-ounce serving cups or bowls.
Step 7
Chill for 4 to 6 hours or overnight until set. Top with reserved beautyberries.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons beautyberries
2 ears corn
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
Pinch of sea salt

Notes & Variations

  • Beautyberries loose their color as soon as they are heated, so be careful not to purée the mixture until it has cooled sufficiently.
  • Replace the beautyberries with blackberries or raspberries.
  • Beautyberries are very astringent, so eat in small portions — they are known to cause mild stomach upset if eaten in large quantities.
40 Min

Custard Excitement.

Cold or hot custards are a divine way to celebrate dessert!

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