sou•ve•nir | sü-və-nir |
a thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place or event
verb [trans.] informal
take as a memento
The remaining scents of guava and papaya are wafting through the air, and it was with heavy hearts that we packed our bags to return home. The time away was much needed, to escape the mundane, to celebrate the end to a busy year, and to remember life’s special moments. But most of all, to reconnect and remember the little things. To unplug and embrace the present.
When you write a food blog, it is easy to get trapped behind a lens, a computer screen, or hovered over a stove. To be free from cooking (and cleaning!) and capturing every single moment was…refreshing.
For me, I realized that I had begun to relax when I knelt down next to my daughter, and dug into the sand. Side by side, we dug and molded sand castles. I looked up to find my husband and son fervently working on a moat to preserve our castle, and this made my heart so full, I can’t even tell you.
This simple thing was one of the highlights of our trip. Better than witnessing my eight year old snorkel for the first time, better than savoring guava juice and fresh papayas for breakfast, better than swinging from banyan trees, better than the amazing dinner my husband and I were able to enjoy solo.
Working together on a project we knew would have a futile result…despite knowing it would be washed away by the ocean in mere minutes…this reminded me of what family is all about. We are here to help each other, no matter the outcome. I don’t have a photo of the sand castle, and it was, as expected, obliterated by wind and water. But that memory will be my everlasting souvenir.
For you, my souvenir is this Coconut Panna Cotta with Papaya Gelee. I ate my fill of papaya when I was in Maui, and yearn for them still. One spoonful of this creamy coconut custard swirled with the papaya gelee, and I can’t think of a better way to remember the tropics.
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Coconut Panna Cotta with Papaya Gelee
After our trip, I was excited to learn the art of macaron making from fellow Bay Area blogger and Self-Proclaimed Cookie Queen, Gina Stanley. I wanted to bring something tropical and refreshing to her home to help beat the July heat. For me, this panna cotta was an experiment, but my fellow food bloggers were eager guinea pigs. Their whole-hearted approval filled my heart, and I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.
- 1 14 oz can coconut cream
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
- 1 15 oz can Cream of Coconut (Coco Lopez)
- 1 red papaya
- 1 cup water, divided
- 1-3 tablespoons agave nectar, simple syrup, or sugar (to taste)
- sugar palm fruit (kaong), for garnish (optional)
For the Coconut Panna Cotta:
In a saucepan, combine 1 cup of coconut cream with 1/4 cup of water. Sprinkle 1 package gelatin over the coconut cream and let it sit for 5 minutes. Warm the saucepan over low heat and stir, until the gelatin dissolves completely.
Add the remaining coconut cream and cream of coconut, and cook over medium heat until steam arises, stirring periodically. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and allow to sit for about 20 minutes.
Pour the mixture into your ramekins or serving cups and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
For the Papaya Gelee:
Slice the papaya in half and remove the seeds. Dice about 1 cup of papaya and blend thoroughly in a blender. Pass the pulp through a sieve. Set aside.
Sprinkle 1 package gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water, let stand 1 minute. Take other 1/2 cup of water and bring it to a boil, add to gelatin mixture and stir thoroughly, until the gelatin dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stir in the papaya puree. Sweeten to taste, depending on the ripeness and flavor of the papaya with sugar or simple syrup.
When the coconut panna cotta layer is firm, add a layer of papaya gelee to each ramekin/serving cup. Return to refrigerator and chill for another 4 hours.
Garnish before serving with fresh papaya and sugar palm fruit (kaong)*, if desired. Serve within 24 hours.
Sugar Palm Fruit (pictured left), or kaong as it is known in the Philippines, is the sweet fruit of the sugar palm, often used in special Philippine desserts. As a child, I used to love sneaking these chewy pearls from their syrupy jars and eating them cold. You can find them in your specialty Asian markets.
Coconut Panna Cotta adapted from Mark Bittman’s Recipe of the Day: Panna Cotta, New York Times, September 11, 2008.