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Panna Cotta literally translates as
"cooked cream" in Italian. These softly set and creamy Italian puddings are so
silky-smooth they slip down beautifully at the end of a meal. Perfect served with fresh
berries or fruits according to the season. They are also perfect for dinner parties
because they can be made a day or two in advance and kept refrigerated until ready to be
Panna Cotta - How To Make Panna Cotta
Puddings, Creams, & Custards,
Grilled Rack of Lamb Dinner,
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Prep time: 15 min
Chill time: 3 hours or overnight
2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups
1/2 cup granulated
1 vanilla bean (2-inches long and split lengthwise with a
knife) or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh
berries, gently washed, drained, and sweetened to taste***
6 sprigs fresh
* It is always best
to measure the the amount of gelatin needed as the envelopes of gelatin can vary.
** Half & half, buttermilk, whole milk, and/or sour cream
may be substituted for part of the cream.
*** Any assortment of fresh, seasonal fruit may be served
with panna cotta, but berries are especially nice. To use other ripe, soft fruits, such as
cherries, peaches or apricots, just remove the stones and peels as necessary and cut them
into thin slices or bite-size pieces.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup milk;
let stand until the gelatin is softened, about 5 minutes.
In a large saucepan, combine heavy cream and sugar. Add
vanilla extract or vanilla bean. If using a vanilla bean, slice the bean lengthwise and
scrape out seeds into cream (add whole bean to cream for additional flavor). Bring cream
just to a simmer (do not let it boil), whisking occasionally until sugar has completely
dissolved; remove from heat and remove vanilla bean pod. Add the softened gelatin
mixture and whisk to completely dissolve the gelatin.
Strain hot cream mixture into a large glass measuring cup with a pouring spout; pour into ramekins or custard cups.
NOTE: Don't skip the straining step as it removes any bits of un-dissolved gelatin and insures a nice smooth dessert.
Also, don't let the cream mixture cool before straining. If
using a vanilla bean, lightly swirl the cream to distribute the seeds evenly.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
To unmold and serve, carefully dip bottom of each ramekin
in a baking pan of hot water briefly. Run a thin knife around edge of each ramekin to
loosen it from the inside of the bowl. Wipe the outside of the mold dry and place on
individual chilled serving plate (topside down). Invert the custard onto the plate and
carefully lift off ramekin (shake gently to release).
Garnish with berries or fruit of your choice.
See Topping Variations below.
Makes 4 to 6 servings (depending on size of the custard cups).
Topping Variation Ideas:
Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar
2 (1-pint) baskets
strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons good-quality
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground
Toss strawberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and pepper in a large bowl to combine. Let stand 30 minutes, tossing
occasionally. Spoon strawberries over and around the panna cotta and serve.
3/4 cup fresh-squeezed
1/4 cup fresh or unthawed frozen
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
In a small saucepan simmer orange juice, fresh or frozen cranberries, and sugar, stirring
occasionally, until cranberries are softened, about 7 minutes. In a blender,
puree mixture until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Pour
sauce through a sieve into a small bowl, pressing hard on solids, and
discard solids. Cool sauce. Sauce may be made 2 days ahead and chilled,
covered. Spoon Cranberry-Orange Sauce over and around the panna cotta and serve.
1 cup water
1 cup granulated
2 1/2 cups fresh
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon good-quality
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine water and sugar. Stir and cook until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to
medium-high and bring to a slow boil; continue cooking, stirring
occasionally, until mixture is reduced by half. Remove from heat and stir in
In a food processor or blender, add
blueberries and process until a chunky puree. Add blueberries puree into the
hot syrup. Cover and refrigerator until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, spoon Cranberry-Orange
Sauce over and around the panna cotta and serve.
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