Cracker Jack Panna Cotta


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  • Servings : 4
  • Prep Time : 0m
  • Cook Time : 0m
  • Ready In : 0m



  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup butter flavored popcorn
  • 1 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin powder
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar*
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and at room temp
  • 1 cup whipping cream, at room temp
  • 1 tsp. flaky sea salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup popped butter flavored popcorn
  • 2 Tbsp. shelled and skinned peanuts


Step 1

To make the panna cotta: Heat ¾ cup of the half-and-half and milk in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the popcorn and cook for 8 minutes to infuse the mixture with popcorn flavor.

Step 2

Meanwhile, pour ¼ cup half-and-half into a shallow bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the half-and-half and let stand for 10 minutes.

Step 3

Stir the superfine sugar into the milk mixture in the saucepan, whisking to dissolve. Remove from the heat and stir in the softened gelatin, whisking until it dissolves. If any gelatin particles remain, return to low heat and stir until it’s all dissolved.

Step 4

Grease four 3-inch ramekins or 4 cups of a muffin tin. Strain the milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large measuring bowl or container for easy pouring. Fill the ramekins or cups. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, 2 to 4 hours.

Step 5

For the caramel: Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat. Once the sugar begins to melt, swirl the pan to distribute the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Once all of the sugar has melted, swirl the pan again.

Step 6

Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a rich amber color. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, cook the sugar until it reaches 350 degrees F be careful that it does not burn. As soon as the caramel reaches this point, remove from heat and add the butter all at once. Be aware the caramel will bubble. Whisk in the butter until incorporated.

Step 7

Slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, the caramel will bubble. Whisk until smooth. Add the salt and whisk until incorporated.

Step 8

Let the caramel cool for 10 minutes and then store in a mason jar. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Step 9

Toast the peanuts in a small saucepan over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the peanuts to a cutting board and chop into small pieces.

Step 10

To assemble, run a knife around the sides of the panna cottas and unmold onto small dessert plates. Top each panna cotta with some of the popcorn and peanuts. Lastly, drizzle about 1 Tbsp. salted caramel over each panna cotta. Serve.

Step 11

*If you do not have superfine sugar, pulse granulated sugar two times in a food processor.


Recipe Comments

  1. posted by Zen on April 4, 2013

    Amazing, I followed your recipe and it’s JUST AMAZING!!!
    I love you whitney, you r my inspiration for my every moment in the kitchen.
    Thank you so much (:


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Whitney is America's first Master Chef winner. She got her start in the small town of Poplarville, Mississippi

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