Consequences & Chocolate Panna Cotta

highway_signWhether it was your mom, dad or a stern teacher or boss, chances are good that you’ve heard the dreaded words, “There will be consequences.” Not once but hundreds of times. And if you’ve never heard them, well heck, loosen up a little! The whole concept of consequences, especially the unintended kind, intrigue me.

Some unintended consequences are well known, even infamous like prohibition. Instead of cleaning up life in the United States, the Eighteenth Amendment led to significant increases in lawlessness and alcoholism. Plus, the loss of revenue from excise taxes on liquor forced many states to institute or increase their income tax.

So, what other unintended consequences come to mind?

Remember the boom box? It’s invention led to many wonderful consequences. Mimes could fight their way out of imaginary boxes to music. A whole generation of talented kids danced their way into our hearts on New York street corners. John Cusack set a whole new bar for teenage romantic gestures. In spite of all that good stuff, this wonderful treasure has gone the way of the dinosaur and phonograph.

Thanks to Steve Jobs, we now get our portable music from a tiny iPod attached to even tinier earbuds. Instead of sharing our music and joy with the entire neighborhood, we bob our heads and listen alone. Oh, we might hum along tunelessly or share a bud with a friend but it’s not the same as the rambunctious, in-your-face boom box.

And oh, it’s not just the boom box. Gone too are cassette tapes. This loss might not seem like such a big deal until you pause and remember the mix tape. I’m sorry, I know all sorts of counterfeiting laws were broken but nothing says road trip like a mix tape of your favorite songs. Or happy birthday but I’m broke and wanted to get you something special and this is what I came up with. Or I love you madly, miss you terribly or think you’re the greatest and here’s the proof.

Eons ago, kids from the suburbs received their first cameras at about age ten. Off to camp or summer vacation, they’d go with their shiny new cameras. Hundreds of pictures were snapped and then rushed to the pharmacy for developing. About a week later, proud and happy kids shared all their out-of-focus, head-chopped-off, under- and over-exposed photographs with friends and family.

Today, there’s a camera in every cellphone. Kids go off to camp or summer vacation or just down the street for the afternoon. They take hundreds of pictures and within minutes post all those out-of-focus, head-chopped-off, under- and over-exposed photographs on Facebook.

Yes indeed, the cellphone for all its convenience has created a long list of unintended consequences. At least I assume they were unintended. Before its invention, restaurants were filled with people, talking to each other, even laughing. Now, diners sit at tables and text or talk to absent friends and family. What ever happen to love the one you’re with?

Plus, and this is a big one, cellphones led to the demise of the phone booth. While you may not miss them, think of poor Clark Kent. That’s right, when was the last time Superman swooped in to save the nation. It’s been awhile and with all this snow, we need him, desperately. Roofs are collapsing, cars are piling-up on the highway and fisticuffs over parking spaces have become commonplace. Where’s Superman in all this mayhem? He’s still looking for somewhere to change.

With a toast to future inventions, I wish you, bon appétit!

Chocolate Panna Cotta
Not all that recently, a reader wrote in to say she couldn’t find my Chocolate Panna Cotta recipe. She asked if I could email her the link. My response – “Sorry, it’s not lost. My Chocolate Panna Cotta recipe is still in my head and not yet in a post.” So, consider today’s recipe a consequence of that request. Enjoy!
Serves 6-8

2 cups heavy creamChocolate_Panna_Cotta_Blood_w_Orange_02
1/2 cup brown sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup whole milk or half & half
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee
5-6 ounces dark chocolate
1 cup sour cream
2-3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Garnish: fresh orange segments segments (blood oranges if you can find them), raspberries or strawberries and whipped cream

Combine the cream, brown sugar and orange zest in a large saucepan. Stirring frequently, cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the cream is steaming. Remove from the heat and let the orange zest steep for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the chocolate and put it in a large measuring cup. Put the milk in a small bowl, sprinkle with the gelatin and let sit until the gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.

Reheat the cream to steaming. Add the gelatin mixture and espresso powder and whisk until the gelatin dissolves.

Pour the cream through a fine mesh sieve into the measuring cup with the chocolate. Let the chocolate sit for 5 minutes and then whisk to combine.

Put the sour cream into a small bowl. A little bit at a time, whisk 2 cups of chocolate cream into the sour cream. Stir in the Grand Marnier and vanilla and then whisk the sour cream mixture into the measuring cup with the chocolate cream.

Pour the panna cotta into small dessert or wine glasses or espresso cups. Chill uncovered until the panna cotta has set, 4-6 hours. Cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Remove the panna cottas from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving. Top each panna cotta with a generous spoonful of fresh fruit, a small dollop of whipped cream and serve.

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Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Do you have a favorite story about an unintended consequence? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

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