It’s true – cereal milk is a thing. Momofuku Milk Bar made it so for anyone over ten. In essence, cereal milk tastes like the bottom of the cereal bowl – it pulls you straight back to childhood, to that spot where you sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the TV, watching Saturday morning cartoons. It’s the reason W always asks for a straw along with his bowl of cereal. I had been contemplating how to use cereal milk in a way that puts it at the forefront – just the flavoured milk itself, no gritty, soggy bits – and panna cotta seemed like just the thing.
Also, I was challenged to make something using cereal. Which in a twist of what’s-old-is-new-again appears to be trendy these days – who knew cereal was so retro? There are cafés dedicated to it, even!
As I may have mentioned in the past, panna cotta is about as simple as dessert gets – it’s basically sweetened cream, set with gelatin. It’s an Italian thing, and verging on fancy, depending on where you get it and how you serve it. It seemed like the right move to bash up some crunchy cereal to sprinkle on top in order to texturally deliver the best of both worlds – smooth, sweet milk with crunchy-sweet cereal suspended on its surface.
To make cereal milk, you heat it to steaming and infuse it with cereal. I know, right? Exactly what you do without thinking when you eat a bowl of cereal, with some heat to speed up the process. We had Chex in the house because Christmas (party mix!), and the chocolate kind adds a dimension that taps into the cereal milk of my childhood dreams, as well as adding sweetness to the crunch on top. (You can compost the softened cereal, or if you’re really hardcore about not throwing anything out, stir it into pancake or muffin batter. It’s true – I’ve done this.)
You could make individual panna cottas for a dinner gathering, or make plated domes by rubbing round ramekins with nonstick spray and unmoulding them once they’re well chilled. Or if you want something fun for a party, fill Chinese soup spoons (I get them by the three-pack at the dollar store and keep them in the basement), which set in about 10 minutes in the fridge and are fun to serve.
* I partnered with Life Made Delicious to come up with something delicious using Chex cereal!