Panna Cotta – A classic Italian dessert made by combining a base of gelatin and sweetened cream with vanilla bean paste. This surprisingly simple dessert will be your new favorite treat.
Panna cotta is one of those desserts that I’ve always thought was super difficult so I was really shocked when I realized it was literally one of the easiest desserts ever. This classic Italian treat is a no bake dessert that if made by combining gelatin with a mixture of heavy cream and milk along with sweetener and flavorings before chilling in a mold while it thickens before serving. I like to have it set in ramekins or little mason jars but it’s totally up to you.
Common Questions About Making Panna Cotta
What is panna cotta?
Panna cotta is an Italian dessert that is made by combining a base of gelatin and sweetened cream with any flavorings such as vanilla or coffee. It is chilled in a mold and served cold.
What is the difference between panna cotta and creme brulee?
While they are both similar, dairy-based desserts, creme brulee uses eggs while panna cotta uses gelatin.
What can I top panna cotta with?
I like to serve it with any of the following –
- Warm jam (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, etc)
- Chocolate sauce
- White chocolate sauce
- Caramel sauce (classic salted caramel or bourbon salted caramel)
- Fresh fruit
- Shaved chocolate
What varieties of panna cotta can I make?
- Chocolate Panna Cotta
- Coffee Panna Cotta
- Lemon Panna Cotta
Ingredient Notes –
- Unflavored gelatin can be found near the pudding and Jell-O in most grocery stores. It helps set the panna cotta so don’t skip it.
- Water helps “bloom” the gelatin so it dissolves in the milk mixture.
- I love the combination of cream and milk – it gives just the right amount of creaminess.
- Granulated sugar sweetens the panna cotta slightly.
- Vanilla bean paste gives the panna cotta that classic vanilla flavor but it also adds little specks of vanilla bean to the mixture so it truly looks like it is vanilla flavored. Feel free to swap out 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or the caviar from one vanilla bean.
Looking for more elegant dessert recipes? Check these out!
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin
- 1 tablespoon warm water (100-110F)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- In a small bowl, stir together the gelatin and warm water.
- In a small saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together the cream, milk, and sugar until the sugar has fully dissolved. Make sure to keep whisking constantly so the mixture doesn't foam too much.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the gelatin and vanilla bean paste.
- Divide the panna cotta base between 4 (6-ounce) ramekins and transfer them to the fridge to chill until set - at least 4 hours.
- To serve, garnish with fresh berries or jam and enjoy.
- (Optional) To remove the panna cotta from the ramekin, fill a shallow bowl with very hot water. Dip the ramekin in the water (making sure the water doesn't actually get inside the panna cotta) and hold it for 5 seconds. Then run a thin, sharp, flat bladed knife around the edge of the ramekin and flip it over onto a plate. Garnish and enjoy.
- Store any leftover panna cotta in their ramekins in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
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