22 Jan Chai Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Crunchy Mocha Quinoa & Pomegranate
I can finally say that my holiday hangover has, at long last, passed. The opposite of a traditional hangover cure — cheesy tacos with an XL side of chips & guac, por favor — I’ve chased this one away by scarfing down more fruits and vegetables in the last 2.5 weeks than I probably consumed in the last six months combined. For reals. I’m a produce consuming machine. I’d genuinely like to tell you that is an exaggeration but there’s an 87% chance I’d be lying to you if I did. But hey, turns out you can convince yourself that fruit for dessert is a viable alternative to chocolate and kind of love yourself for it. Not that I’m giving up my beloved chocolate. THAT my friends, would not be a life worth living.
In addition to successfully tidying up my insides, I’ve reached acceptance that the glitter of Christmas is no more…*sniffle*. I’m kind of, sort of coming around the fact that even though, yes, it’s cold and dreary outside, no, I cannot warm myself up by gazing lovingly upon my twinkly Christmas tree, or dance in my fuzzy socks to NSYNC Christmas. (Uptown Funk on the other hand, definitely still an option.) And finally, after dragging myself back into the office kicking and screaming, I’ve rediscovered my mojo at my day job. <– Definitely the biggest pro because unemployment is NOT an option.
I admit, it does seem a little, erm…late, that I’m embracing January just in time to bid it farewell. But I like to think that means it’s almost as if the first two (semi-miserable, since we’re being dramatic) weeks of January didn’t exist — two big black smudges on the calendar that I’m totally okay with pretending never happened. Cheers to looking ahead to a (hopefully) monumental 2015, and finally planning for Valentine’s day (because chocolate!).
Can we just take a moment for a collective sigh? Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. Feels good, no?
Ok, so I know I may have mentioned chocolate and Valentine’s day just a few short pounds of the space bar ago, but that was a teensy weensy fib because while this recipe does include cocoa powder, it’s…well…healthy-ish. And not especially romantic. Sure, it makes two perfectly-portioned servings and those pomegrate seeds are a festive shade of pinkish-red (not to mention an aphrodisiac!). BUT I’m waiting until next week to get all lovey-dovey with a super shmexy Valentine’s Day dessert, plus an update on something fun and exciting that’s been going on over here in my world-o-butter. So today we’re keeping one foot in January resolution-land, and talking about the lightest, silkiest cozy dessert you ever did gawk at on the internet.
Confession — at first, I was iffy on this dessert. I made it as an experiment of sorts, totally unsure of if it would make the cut for this space. First, I wasn’t convinced that the greek yogurt and the chai would play well together. Then I was unsure that the chai flavor would come through enough. After that I had to make the crunchy quinoa three times before I settled on the realization that you most definitely should NOT cook the quinoa first, but OMG don’t leave off the crunchy quinoa. It’s quinoa like you’ve never had it before (or maybe I’m just late?) — 10 minutes in the oven and it turns into the most satisfyingly crunchy topping for oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream!…I’m obsessed.
Seriously, after one bite of this panna cotta all of my doubts melted away. I was pleasantly, enthusiastically, triple-exclamation-point (!!!) surprised at how fist-pump-yourself-for-being-a-panna-cotta-genie good this turned out. So if you’re on the fence, hop up off that tush and get to panna cotta-ing. It takes less than an hour to pull together (not including setup time) and it’s a total showstopper. Pinky promise, it will not disappoint.
The greek yogurt lends a tangy smoothness, resulting in a panna cotta so smooth and silky that you’ll never know it’s missing traditionally used heavy cream. (Yea-ha, not an ounce of cream. Just greek yogurt + skim milk…you’re welcome, skinny jeans!) The flavor of the chai is present and complimentary without being bitter or overwhelming, and the contrasting texture from the crunchy mocha quinoa creates a perfectly yin-yang, eye-rollingly-delicious, dirty chai latte kind of situation in your mouth. Juicy bursts from the pomegranate arils (that’s fancy speak for seeds) round out the dessert perfectly by bringing a fresh acidity to the party. Top with almonds and cocoa nibs for added good fat + superfood power and you’ve got yourself one heck of a guiltless dessert. Or breakfast. Or snack, even. Versatility, people!
Enjoy & have a fantastic weekend!
- 1 cup skim or 2% milk, divided
- 1 teaspoon gelatin
- 3 bags of chai (I used Bigelow Vanilla Chai)
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground gardamom
- dash of salt
- 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar (for added sweetness, optional)
- dash of salt
- pomegranate arils
- slivered or whole almonds
- cocoa nibs
- In a medium saucepan combine 1/2 cup milk with gelatin and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes to let the gelatin soften. Warm the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until completely dissolved.
- Turn off the heat, place the tea bags in the warm mixture and let steep for 5 - 10 minutes, depending on how strong of a chai flavor you'd like. I love chai so I let mine steep for a full ten minutes. Remove the tea bags from the liquid, squeezing them to wring out any liquid they soaked up and to release extra flavor.
- Whisk in the remaining milk, greek yogurt, spices and salt. Divide the liquid between 2 serving glasses, cover and refrigerate until set.
- Preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix until all of the quinoa is well coated.
- Spread the quinoa mixture on your parchment lined baking sheet in as even of a layer as possible. Bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the quinoa is crunchy. Note that the quinoa will burn easily, so once the cooking time reaches 10 minutes keep a close eye. When it starts to smell toasty it's done. If it doesn't seem crunchy enough don't worry, it will continue to crisp up as it cools.
- Sprinkle a few tablespoons of quinoa over the set panna cotta. Garnish with pomegranate arils and almonds and serve.