Updated: Jun 1, 2022
God’s grace changes everything.
When I was initially putting my first feast together, I was praying and asking God to show me a unique way to communicate His grace through a dessert. I went to the library and stumbled upon a book called 1001 Foods To Eat Before You Die. Each page highlighted one unique ingredient. As I flipped through the book I was surprised to discover a page about Miracle Berries. Miracle Berries are a natural berry from West Africa, that contains a unique ingredient that food scientists have called Miraculin.
Miraculin temporarily covers the sour receptors on the tongue, so that foods that are traditionally sour become sweet as candy. I immediately thought of God’s grace, as when I encountered God's grace in my life, I was profoundly changed from the inside out. Creating a dish with flavors that would literally transform from sour to sweet on your tongue is a wonderful edible metaphor for the very real transformational experience of encountering God's grace. It was the perfect dessert to end my first feast. Now I close every feast with a variation of a Taste of Grace using the Miracle Berry.
The transformation from sour to sweet is a powerful edible illustration of how Jesus covers the sourness of our sin, allowing us to have a relationship with God, making all things new. The Miracle Berry covers our sour receptors on our tongue similar to how Jesus covers our sin. When we encounter God’s grace we can experience God for who He really is, just as we can taste the lemon for what it really is.
Photo: We brought in some fresh picked Miracle Berries from Miracle Fruit Farm in Florida during a Taste of Theo's Feast in Orlando on February 12, 2022.
Recipe: A Taste of Grace Panna Cotta
This recipe makes 8 - 4 ounce Panna Cottas. 25 minutes to prep. 3 hours to set.
The two key ingredients to this dish are the Miracle Berry and naturally sour ingredients such as a fresh lemon. Fresh Miracle Berries are available to purchase online, however, they are expensive and very perishable as they lose their culinary appeal within a few hours of harvesting. There are many freeze-dried options available and after trying many varieties and brands, I recommend the MBerry brand tablets.
I purchase my MBerry tablets on Amazon. You can also get them from MBerry.us
Make the Panna Cotta a few hours ahead of your jelly so it has time to set.
Panna Cotta Ingredients.
1 1/2 cups of milk.
2 cups plain Greek yogurt. I recommend the Oikos brand, 2% MF.
1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste, or 4 teaspoons vanilla extract if you are only using the extract
1 teaspoon of liquid honey
4 teaspoons of unflavoured gelatine
1/2 cup water for hydrating the gelatine
2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice.
Panna Cotta Directions:
1. Hydrate the gelatine in 1/2 cup of water.
2. Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Add the bean pod and seeds to the cream. Or use the vanilla paste or extract.
3. Bring the cream and vanilla, to a low simmer in a pot on medium-low heat. Stir in the hydrated gelatine and honey. Remove from the heat, transfer from the hot pot to a bowl and let cool for 15 min. Remove the vanilla bean.
Whisk yogurt into the cooled cream mixture. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. (add the lemon juice last after the mixture has cooled as you don’t want it to curdle) Pour into glasses or dessert dishes. Let set in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
After the Panna Cotta has set, top it with a thin layer of the Meyer Lemon Jelly and garnish it with a fresh raspberry, a sprig of mint, and some lemon zest. (recipe below).
Meyer Lemon Jelly
5 Meyer Lemons. 1/3 cup fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice (3 Lemons). Plus two lemons cut into quarters. Meyer lemons are a gourmet lemon that is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. If you can't find Meyer lemons you can simulate their unique flavor by adding 3 Tablespoons of Passion fruit juice or fresh squeezed mandarin orange juice to your regular lemon juice. Regular fresh squeezed Lemon juice will also work, but Meyer lemons are highly recommended.
4 teaspoons of unflavoured gelatine
1/4 cup water
1 drop of yellow food coloring (optional)
1 lemon wedge per person, seeds removed.
1 Miracle Berry per person.
Zest of 2 lemons for garnish
1 fresh raspberry per person
Hydrate the gelatine by mixing it in a bowl with 1/4 cup of hot water.
Wash all 5 lemons and then zest 3 of them. Reserve the zest in a bowl for garnish. Squeeze/juice the zested lemons and remove any seeds. If you don't have Meyer lemons, add freshly squeezed passionfruit or mandarin juice. Bring to a simmer on medium-low heat on the stove. Check the color, and add a few drops of food coloring if desired. Mix in hydrated gelatine. Remove from the heat to cool to room temperature.
Once cool, top your set Panna Cottas with a layer of lemon gelatine. Let it set in the fridge for at least an hour. Then garnish with a sprig of mint, lemon zest, and a fresh raspberry. Quarter the remaining 2 lemons, remove any seeds, and serve a lemon wedge with a Miracle Berry on the side.
For guests to truly experience A Taste of Grace, the elements need to be tasted in the proper order. When serving the dish, ask your guests to wait a moment before eating, as you’ll ask a few questions first and then eat the dish together following the steps below:
Explain the dish. But don't share that the miracle berry does other than it will temporarily change your flavor perception. See the conversation guide below.
Taste the Panna Cotta and Lemon Wedge
Put the Miracle Berry tablet on your tongue until it dissolves. (3-4 min)
Taste the Lemon wedge and Panna Cotta for a second time.
You are now experiencing A Taste of Grace!
The dictionary defines grace as unmerited favor, something you can’t earn but which is given to you freely. For people of faith, God’s Grace is the unconditional love He gives, even though we in no way deserve His love or affection. You could say that we deserve sourness, but we receive sweetness. Jesus experienced all the sourness of death, as a substitute for us—kind of like how the miracle berry transformed our taste buds and covered over the sour notes. We’re told in the Bible that Jesus did this because of how deeply God loves us and wants us to know Him.
Love like this needs to be experienced. It’s like having a rational belief that honey is sweet, compared with the actual taste of its sweetness. Jonathan Edwards, an 18th - century preacher, said it this way: “When you experience God in a personal way, your heart gets a new sensory ability."
In many ways, the sour to sweet you are experiencing now is an edible metaphor for a new spiritual sensory ability we have when we ask Jesus into our lives. A spiritual transformation takes place. God begins to transform us from the inside out. And that helps explain the difference between the perception of Christianity as an exercise in religious morality, versus a relational experience in which we are transformed by the love of God into a new person, motivated to live in obedience to Him.
theo's feast at home recipe testers wanted
Our upcoming book Theo's Feast at Home aims to reimagine our traditional large event presentations into a conversation that you can have with your friends around your dining room table.
If you would like to be a Recipe Tester for our upcoming book Theo's Feast at Home you can register here: bit.ly/TF-RecipeTesterRSVP
We will then send you a free copy of the following resources from our new book:
1. Taste of Grace Recipe.
2. A Taste of Grace Conversation Guide.
3. Theo's Feast At Home. An Invitation For Recipe Testers
4. An Invitation to join our Facebook Community Forum
We are looking forward to working with you!
Gary Stevenson, Creator of Theo's Feast
Jason Weimer, Direct of CRU Press.