Panna Cotta: Recipe and Tips


This Italian dessert is made with milk, cream, and gelatin

A dessert should be light and simple, never overshadowing the meal. Such is panna cotta, an Italian recipe that is incredibly easy to make and requires very few ingredients.

This dessert has its origins in northern Italy, specifically the Piamonte region, where it is believed to have been created. Nowadays it is a very popular dessert in many countries, thanks to its versatility and the fact that it can be served many ways.

How To Make Panna Cotta

This dish is unique in its simplicity, both in regards to its ingredients and its preparation. In fact, panna cotta only requires five ingredients: gelatin, milk, double cream, vanilla, and sugar.

To make 4 servings of panna cotta, follow these steps. Soak 3 sheets of gelatin in cold water until they soften. In a saucepan, heat 250 ml of milk, 250 ml of double cream, a vanilla bean pod and 25 g sugar until it simmers.

Remove the vanilla and add in the gelatin sheets, which have been drained. Remove from heat and mix until everything is fully incorporated. Distribute among 4 small molds and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or until firm.

The most traditional way to serve panna cotta is out of its mold on a plate, so you will have to slide a knife along the edges of the mold and flip the dessert upside down to remove.

Versions of Panna Cotta 

Panna cotta offers a very versatile base for a wide variety of desserts. A very popular way to serve it is with fresh fruit, like strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries. It is also very commonly served with a fruit sauce or jam, given that the acidity in the fruit combines very well with the richness and fat of the milk and cream.

For a touch of citrus, replace the vanilla with a little bit of lemon peel. Lemon panna cotta is delicious when served with blackberries and a touch of honey.

To make an even sweeter version of this delicious dessert, top it off with chocolate or caramel sauce. You can also sprinkle some chopped nuts, like almonds or hazelnuts, on top before serving.

Tips and Recommendations

Ideally, you will let your panna cotta chill for at least 4 hours before serving it, but if you are in a rush and planning on serving it in the mold, it should be firm after 1 or 2 hours.

Try to serve and eat your panna cotta the same day or the day after you make it, though it can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. Just ensure that it is covered well with plastic wrap.

This pure and rich dessert is the perfect way to top off your culinary experience. And thanks to it being so easy to make at home, you can enjoy panna cotta on practically any occasion.

Check out another one of our delicious desserts, the German Baumkuchen tree cake. Find the recipe here.

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