A Season and a Reason for Citrus

Bunnies. Eggs. Lamb. Equinox.

Though these tend to be the primary symbols of Easter, this holiday's arrival tells us that spring has sprung and a new beginning is upon us. And if you have been watching and reading the news lately, we could certainly use some good news and fresh starts.

Did you know that each year, Easter takes place on the Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox?

With these facts in mind, I began to think of what I could make for an Easter celebration at a friend's house in the country. The host and hostess requested that guests bring a dessert.

When I received the invitation, I thought this was such a clever and fun way to engage your invited guests to participate in the event. Easter is built on family traditions, many of them edible, and I love that the hostess was encouraging people to bring their own holiday traditions to her party.

Who wouldn't drool over a wild and crazy buffet table of assorted desserts? This is a brilliant way to end a get together. Imagine the table now...

Brownies, absolutely. Or something for the chocolate lovers, because there is at least one in every crowd.
Carrot cake. Bunnies love carrots and so do humans.
Cupcakes, of course. Both big and little kids will flip over the individual cakes topped with fabulous and sugary frosting.
Though I can see the robust and glutenous, or is it gluttonous, dessert table now, I decided to make a spring-like dessert for the adults who might not be wanting something acutely sugary or with gluten. But it could also not be a boring dessert of just assorted berries either. It needed to be colorful, have a punch of flavor and still sway on the side of healthy.

In my world, this occasion calls for a refreshingly light but heavenly lemon panna cotta with blueberry compote. A perfect way to wake up the palate after a long and cold winter.

As a self-proclaimed panna cotta freak, this Italian favorite is an easy dessert to throw together and makes everyone think you are a pastry chef. Truth is, a perfectly made panna cotta is a dreamy dessert anyone can make and only calls for a few ingredients.

Whether you are celebrating a holiday or not, this refreshingly light and heavenly citrus dessert will definitely make a good time even better.

Buen provecho!
Lemon Panna Cotta with Blueberry Compote
The Cowgirl Gourmet adapted this recipe from the Sweet Baked Life blog

Print recipe

Luscious lemons are a great way to wake the taste buds after a long winter. I made this for an Easter gathering and watched the servings fly off of the table. The blueberry compote is a lovely addition to this delightful dessert. Make this the day before you want to serve it so it has time to chill thoroughly.

Serves 6-8

1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 2-3 lemons)
1/4 cup lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons)
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups high-quality cream, organic
1 cup high-quality milk, organic
2 teaspoons vanilla or vanilla bean paste
Pinch of salt

Zest two lemons and set aside. You'll want 1 tablespoon, so measure the zest and zest part of another lemon, if needed. Cut two lemons in half and squeeze all of the juice into a bowl.
Sprinkle gelatin over the lemon juice and let stand until the gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.
In a saucepan, whisk sugar with the lemon zest.
Add the cream and milk and cook over medium heat, whisking just until it begins to simmer and sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Do not boil!

Add the lemon juice-gelatin mixture and vanilla and whisk until gelatin has dissolved, about 2-3 minutes.

Cool the mixture in a water bath for about 10 minutes. This step will ensure that the panna cotta does not separate.
Lightly oil the ramekins or cups and divide mixture among the 6-8 servings. Refrigerate until firm, about 4-6 hours, though overnight is best.

When ready to serve, spoon a tablespoon of blueberry compote over each and dig in.

Blueberry Compote

1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest

To a saucepan over medium heat, add the blueberries, sugar, honey, lemon juice and zest and stir well until sugar dissolves and berries release their juices. This will take about 3 minutes.
Lower the heat and cook another 5 minutes, stirring often. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Spoon a tablespoon over each serving of lemon panna cotta and enjoy.
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