Like its cousin, ceme bruiee, Panna cotta is a dessert that appears magnificent but is surprisingly simple to make. This delicate and creamy no-bake dessert requires (and benefits from) extensive chilling to set, making it the ideal make-ahead dessert to dazzle at any dinner gathering. Continue reading to learn how to prepare this magnificent sweet treat:
What is panna cotta?
Panna cotta is a cream-based Italian dessert sweetened with vanilla and set with gelatin. After mixing the warm milk and cream with the gelatin and vanilla, the mixture is poured into ramekins (or molds) and refrigerate until set. It’s the perfect no-bake dessert to dazzle your dinner party with no effort, often topped with fresh (or roasted) fruit or a berry sauce.
The toppings for panna cotta.
The vanilla-lemon flavor of panna cotta pairs nicely with a bright and sweet topping, which is often served with a fresh fruit topping or a handmade berry sauce. We combined the best of both worlds by topping our panna cotta with roasted fruit. Any berries or cherries that are in season will work well here. Roasting them sweetens the fruit and brings out a lot of its natural taste.
Top tips for making the best panna cotta:
- Form or unform. Unmolding enhances their appearance, but they can be created and served in a glass dish and be just as lovely. Dip the ramekins in hot water to release the panna cotta from the sides, then use a warm offset spatula to keep the sides smooth.
- Change up the flavor. Different extract types, such as almond or maple, can be used in place of vanilla beans, and various citrus can be used in place of lemon peel. Make it ahead of time.
- These lovelies may be refrigerated for up to 2 days to set, making them the ideal make-ahead dessert. The roasted fruit can also be cooked ahead of time and spooned on top just before serving.
FOR PANNA COTTA
- 1-quart whole milk
- 1 (0.25-oz.) unflavored gelatin envelope
- 1-quart thick cream
- granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
- 1 vanilla bean pod, cut in half and seeds removed
- 1 kosher salt pinch
- 1 huge lemon peel strip
- Spray cooking oil
FOR ROASTED FRUIT:
- 4 cups mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
TO MAKE PANNA COTTA
Place milk in a medium saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over the entire surface of the liquid. Allow gelatin to bloom and soften for 5 minutes.
Whisk gelatin into milk in a saucepan over medium heat until there are no lumps. Continue whisking every 2 to 3 minutes for 2 to 3 minutes to ensure it is thoroughly dissolved. Mix in the cream, sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and a generous sprinkling of salt. Continue whisking for 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has warmed. It should not come to a boil, so reduce the heat if the mixture becomes too warm. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon peel. Allow the mixture to cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to help cool it down and keep it from separating.
Spray four 6-ounce ramekins with cooking spray, then use a paper towel to wipe the mist along the bottom and corners of the ramekins, removing any excess spray. You want a thin coating that doesn’t pool in the ramekins. Next, remove the lemon peel from the cream mixture and whisk it again. Pour the mixture into a large glass measuring cup or another spout-equipped vessel. Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to 2 days, or until the panna cotta is set.
When ready to serve, fill a small bowl halfway with boiling water and unmold the panna cotta. Dip ramekins into boiling water for several seconds without getting any water in the panna cotta. Wash an offset spatula in hot water, then dry with a towel. Run the hot spatula around the edge of the panna cotta, then invert onto the serving plate. To get the panna cotta to fall onto the plate, jiggle the ramekin around and tap on the bottom.
Garnish with roasted fruit.
IN THE CASE OF ROASTED FRUIT
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill a 9″ x 13″ baking pan halfway with fruit. Toss with the sugar and lemon juice to mix.
Cook until the fruit is tender and delicious, about 20 minutes. Halfway through, stir in the fruit. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.
Learn more: Blood Orange Gin Sparkler