Literally meaning, cooked cream, Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert made with sweetened cream and gelatin. Often cited as a traditional dessert of the Piedmont area, Panna Cotta became popular in North America in the 1990s. Similar to custard but thickened with gelatin instead of egg yolks, Panna Cotta is deliciously creamy and silky smooth on the tongue with a hint of sweetness to it. It can be infused with many different flavors including chocolate and eggnog or more exotic flavors like mango or matcha, but my favorite is always the traditional recipe which calls for just a light touch of vanilla. Served with fresh berries in season or topped with a raspberry coulis Panna Cotta is a delicious dessert that looks fancy yet is easy to make.
Traditional Panna Cotta With Berries
- Serving Size8
- 1 Envelope (about 1 tbsp) Unflavored gelatin
- 2 Tbsp Cold Water
- 2 Cups Heavy cream
- 1 Cup Half and half
- 1/3 Cup Sugar
- 1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla extract
- Add water to a very small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over the water. Let it stand for about 1 minute to soften. Heat the gelatin mixture over very low heat until the gelatin is dissolved and remove it from the heat.
- In a large saucepan using moderately high heat, bring the cream, half and half, and sugar just to a boil stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture and vanilla. Divide the cream mixture among eight 1/2-cup ramekins and cool to room temperature. Cover the ramekins and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Serve in the ramekins or if you prefer, turn out the Panna Cotta onto individual plates. To do this, dip the ramekins, 1 at a time, into a bowl of hot water for 3 seconds. Then run a thin knife around the edge of each ramekin and invert the ramekin onto the center of a small plate tapping the bottom of the dish to help release the Panna Cotta.
- Top with fresh berries in season and serve
For variety, Panna Cotta can be topped with any fruit that is in season as well as a chocolate sauce and whipped cream. A caramel sauce is also nice.