Beet Panna Cotta with Lemon Mousse or Pannacotta

  • Serves: Makes 5 servings, when made in 12 oz. stemless wine glasses; Makes 6, when made in 8 oz. glasses
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This dessert will leave people asking, “What is that interesting flavor?”. We use ugly beets to make a beautiful, unique, and exciting dessert!
The beets lend an earthy, almost smoky, flavor to this panna cotta, which is a perfect match for the bright tang of the lemon mousse.
The cute Candied Beet Heart Garnish placed on top is optional, and adds such a nice touch. It has to be made a day in advance of the dessert, and the completed heart can be stored for 4 days. Go to Step III in the recipe for more information.    
The whole dessert is a ying/yang flavor combination that is a complete delight.
Perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day, especially when garnished with a candied beet heart.
We want to help prevent food waste and show you ways to use what we call misshapen or ugly produce. 
Join our Ugly Produce is Beautiful Educational Campaign, helping to bring awareness to our Nation's enormous food waste problem. This recipe shows you how to use ugly produce in beautiful and delicious ways!
Search for other recipes here using the keywords 'ugly produce.'


For the Beet Panna Cotta:

8 oz. beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon gelatin
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Lemon Mousse:
1 recipe Fresh Lemon Curd, preferably with Meyer lemons, chilled for two hours or more
3/4 cup heavy cream

For the Candied Beet Heart Garnish, Optional - Make a day in advance of recipe:
2 medium beets
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Additional sugar for sprinkling
one 1 1/2-inch heart shaped cookie cutter

Whipped Cream for Serving:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Special Equipment:
Open Star Tip
Piping Bag



1. Add the beet cubes to a medium saucepan.

2. Pour the cream over the beets, then add the salt.

3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down to a very low simmer.
Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the beets are tender.
NOTE: Be sure to lower the heat, because it will boil over, if you are not careful!

4. Add the gelatin and 2 tablespoons of cold water to a blender.

5. Let it sit 5 minutes, then pour the hot beet mixture into the blender.

6. Hold the lid of the blender with a kitchen towel and puree the beets.
Start at a low speed, then increase the speed, so you don’t end up covered in hot beet cream!

7. Add the honey, the maple syrup and the vanilla, and blend to combine.
The deep pink color is divine!

8. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer. Discard any solids that remain.

9. Divide the mixture equally in 5 or 6 glasses, depending on the size of glass used.
NOTE: Optionally, if you want to make the angled layers, prop the glasses, at an angle, in an egg carton or a pan with raw rice, as we did in this tutorial

10. Chill at least 4 hours (preferably overnight), until the panna cotta is firmly set.

The beet panna cotta can be made two days ahead, and stored covered, in the refrigerator. It cannot be frozen.
NOTE: If you are storing the panna cotta overnight or for two days, you can make the Candied Beet Heart Garnishes here. Go to Step III for more information.   

1. Remove the Lemon Curd from the refrigerator, when it is cold, and stir it to loosen it up.

2. Beat the cream in a medium bowl with a hand-held mixer, until it reaches soft peaks.

3. Add a dollop of soft whipped cream to the curd, and gently fold it to lighten the curd.

4. Add the rest of the softly whipped cream, and fold gently.

5. Remove the Beet Panna Cotta filled glasses from the refrigerator.
Place the glasses flat on the countertop. 

Carefully spoon the mousse over the beet panna cotta layer.
NOTE: Since the beet layer is set, the angle will remain, and it won’t slide down the glass.

6. Wipe off any drips with a slightly damp cloth.

7. Place the glasses back in the refrigerator until service.

The dessert can be stored for a day, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator. It is best served right away,

This is an optional step, but it makes a beautiful presentation, you may also use a heart-shaped gummy candy, if you would rather skip this step.
1. Peel the two beets and slice them thinly.
A mandolin slicer is perfect for the job, but if you don’t have one, just slice them thinly, and CAREFULLY, with a sharp chef’s knife.

2. Cut out shapes with a 1 1/2-inch heart shaped cookie cutter.

3. Add the sugar to the water and make the simple syrup.
Bring it to a boil, stirring, until the sugar is completely dissolved.

4. Turn off the heat. Carefully add the beets to the syrup.
Then bring the mixture to a simmer, gently, for about an hour.
The beets will become tender and almost translucent when done.

5. When done, remove the pot from the heat.
Let the beet hearts cool in the syrup until it is room temperature.
Then carefully remove them from the syrup, with a slotted spoon, and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. 

6. Sprinkle the hearts generously with sugar, turn them over, and sprinkle again.

7. Arrange them on a clean parchment-lined baking sheet, and let them sit overnight in a COLD oven, to dry.

Store them at room temperature, in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

1. Right before service, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.

2. Place the whipped cream in a piping bag, fitted with an open star tip and pipe whipped cream on top of the mousse, avoiding the edges of the glass.

3. Carefully push a toothpick into the pointed and of the candied beet hearts, then set the heart into the center of the whipped cream.

Store left-overs in the refrigerator for a day. This does not freeze.


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