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Candy Cap Panna Cotta
Serves 4

Candy cap mushrooms, which grow wild in Northern California and have a sweet mapley flavor, are pretty incredible and I highly recommend you try them. You can purchase dried candy caps on the internet from companies like Far West Fungi. For the last few years one of my regular guests at the ranch, David Campbell, has brought me a bottle of candy cap syrup. It’s my favorite hostess gift. I hope he comes next year.

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 packet powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water

Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan over a medium low heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

Pour the gelatin into a small bowl and cover with the cold water. Stir to dissolve.

Lightly oil 4 1/2-cup capacity ramekins with corn or safflower oil. Do not use olive oil. The taste is too strong.

Spoon the gelatin into a medium sized bowl. Pour the warm cream and sugar mixture over the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved.

Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours. If you let the panna cotta sit in the fridge for more than 12 hours it may get tough.

In the meantime, prepare the sauce.

4 tablespoons dried candy cap mushrooms
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar

Soak the candy caps in the water. After about fifteen minutes the mushrooms will be soft. Remove the mushrooms and strain the liquid through a fine strainer, as there may be some forest grit in there. Pour the candy cap soaking liquid and the mushrooms into a small heavy bottomed pot. Start with a half cup of sugar, though you may need more. The Candy Caps can vary in sweetness.

Bring the syrup to a low boil over a medium low heat. You may have to boil the syrup for as long as twenty minutes—the mushrooms will become sweeter over time. Just give the syrup a taste and see if you need more sugar. Reduce the sauce to about 3/4 cup. You can refrigerate the sauce for a few days. I like to serve it at room temperature.