Jansen Chan, the pastry chef at Manhattan's Oceana, grew up eating a Chinese dessert called "almond Jell-O"—essentially an almond-flavored panna cotta. Then he had his first real Italian panna cotta: "It was plainer, but so much richer," he recalls. Here, Chan toys with the classic, creating a version with Greek yogurt and nonfat sour cream that is luxuriously creamy, yet still low in fat and calories
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1 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons plain powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1/3 cup fat-free sour cream (3 ounces)
1 1/2 cups plain fat-free Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 pineapple (1 3/4 pounds)—peeled, cored and quartered
Pinch of salt
How to Make It
In a large saucepan, heat the milk with the sugar over low heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until softened, 3 minutes. Scrape the gelatin into the warm milk and let cool completely.
In a medium bowl, whisk the sour cream with the yogurt, lime juice and vanilla. Whisk in the milk and pour the panna cotta into 6 glasses. Refrigerate until set, 3 hours.
In a saucepan, cook the water and sugar over moderate heat, stirring, just until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool completely.
Cut three-fourths of the pineapple into chunks, transfer to a blender and puree; strain into the saucepan with the sugar syrup, pressing hard on the solids. Discard the pulp. Stir the salt into the pineapple puree and pour it into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Freeze for 30 minutes. Using a fork, stir the granita. Continue freezing, stirring every 30 minutes, until the granita is icy and fluffy, about 3 hours.
Cut the remaining pineapple into thin slices. Fluff the granita with a fork and spoon it over the panna cottas. Garnish with the pineapple slices and serve right away.
The panna cottas can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days. The granita can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Fluff before serving.
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