Even the last scraps of home made puff pastry taste great and puff perfectly. Never ever dispose these precious leftovers, always put them to some use. The flavor of the real butter and the texture of the finished product is far superior compared to store-bought puff pastry.

I’m crazy about lemon-licorice combo. But the key is not to overdo the last component. If you wish, you can use anise seeds instead of fennel, but since the anise is more potent, reduce its amount accordingly. A little bit too much and you can end up with a cough syrup flavor.

Makes 12 relatively small panna cotta servings and about 18-20 10-inch long straws

For the panna cotta:

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ¼ tsp gelatin
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup fine granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/8 tsp (pinch) salt
  • 2 cups low-fat or no-fat unsweetened yogurt
  • 1 tsp pure lemon extract
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup apricot jam
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp Limoncello
  • Zest of ½ lemon

For the fennel lemon straws:

  • About 8 oz (1/2-lb) puff pastry
  • 1 egg + scant tablespoon water + a few drops of pure lemon oil (or ¼ tsp pure lemon extract), lightly beaten – for egg wash
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar combined with zest of ½ lemon and rubbed with fingertips to release lemon oil
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds

Make the panna cotta:

Pour the lemon juice into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let soften for a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the whipping cream, sugar, honey, lemon zest, and salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the cream is hot. Remove from the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin; whisk until the gelatin dissolves. Set aside.

Place the yogurt in a large liquid-measuring cup (a spout will make it easier to pour later). Add the lemon and vanilla extracts and whisk to combine and lighten the yogurt. Gradually, whisk in the hot cream-gelatin mixture. Divide the mixture equally between 12 4-oz bowls, glasses or ramekins. Once cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Right before serving or close to the serving time, combine the jam, tablespoon of honey, and Limoncello in a small microwave-safe bowl. Warm the mixture gently, so it’s barely warm to the touch, then put it through a fine-mesh sieve. Stir in the lemon zest. Divide the jam mixture equally between the panna cotta, gently spread the jam. Please, note that the jam should be spreadable but not hot; otherwise, it will melt the panna cotta. Serve right away or refrigerate until needed.

Make the fennel lemon straws:

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface or on a sheet of parchment, roll the puff pastry into 1/8-inch thick square, about 10×10-inch. Trim the edges. Brush very lightly with the egg wash, sprinkle evenly with the lemon sugar and fennel seeds. Gently roll a rolling pin over to embed the seeds and sugar. Using a pizza wheel, cut the dough into ½-inch strips. Twist each strip from both ends to form a spiral and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Use a tiny amount of the egg wash to adhere the both ends of each straw to the baking sheet, press lightly to secure. It will prevent them from uncoiling in the oven during baking. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, or until nicely brown and caramelized. Cool the cookies on a rack.