Here’s my take on a classic Italian dessert – a simple panna cotta.
Panna cotta is pretty easy to prepare, and can be made a day in advance. It’s basically a sweetened cream, thickened with gelatin, and flavored with vanilla. I prefer the taste of Lactantia cream and milk, so I used Lactantia 35% Whipping Cream, and Lactantia Purfiltre 3.25% Milk for my panna cotta.
Feel free to play with the flavoring.
Almond extract is a delicious substitute for the vanilla extract. Panna cotta also goes well with chocolate, or sweet peaches. Honey could be used as well to sweeten the cream, rather than granulated white sugar.
To mold, or not to mold?
I set the panna cotta in custard cups, so I could unmold the panna cotta later on. However, it’s easier to set the panna cotta in wine glasses (or coffee cups), and simply top the panna cotta with berries, if desired. Both options are covered in my recipe.
Toppings and garnish
You could top the panna cotta with: fresh berries and mint, a warm berry sauce, a strawberry simple syrup, a layer of berry jelly, fresh berry jam, etc. Feel free to explore other possibilities.
Keep in mind that whatever is in season is usually fresh, and affordable. Luckily, summer is the best time of the year to get local strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries in the Montreal area.
Here’s the recipe.
- 2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin powder (see Note 1)
- ½ cup cold spring water
- 2 cups Lactantia whipping cream - 35% fat
- 1 cup Lactantia PurFiltre whole milk - 3.25% fat (see Note 2)
- ⅓ cup granulated white sugar
- ½ cup warm spring water
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon canola oil (to oil the custard cups)
- 2 cups fresh berries (or other sweet fruit), chopped
- Strawberry simple syrup
- Small mint leaves
- Bloom the gelatin: Sprinkle the gelatin over ½ cup of cold water in a medium bowl, and let stand for 6 minutes.
- While the gelatin blooms: Heat the whipping cream, whole milk, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the cream is warm and the sugar is dissolved; do not bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt.
- Whisk ½ cup of warm water into the gelatin mixture.
- Pour the heated cream mixture over the gelatin mixture.
- Place the bowl in the ice bath (see Note 3). Stir the creamy gelatin mixture until the gelatin is completely dissolved, and the mixture has cooled slightly.
- Divide the cream mixture into six lightly oiled custard cups. (See Note 4 for alternative) Chill until firm, at least 5 hours.
- Run a sharp knife around the edge of each panna cotta. Unmold each panna cotta onto a small serving dish. (Alternatively, if you set the panna cotta in wine glasses, do not unmold the panna cotta).
- Top with fresh sweet berries, a strawberry simple syrup, and small mint leaves, if desired. (See Note 5)
2. For a richer dessert, replace the cup of milk (3.25% fat) with a cup of whipping cream (35% fat).
3. How to create an ice bath: Place 8 ice cubes in a large bowl. Pour cold water into the bowl until it is ½ full.
4. Alternative: If you're in a hurry, you could set the panna cotta in 6 wine glasses rather than custard cups. Do not unmold the panna cotta from the wine glasses.
5. Toppings: You could simply top the panna cotta with: fresh berries, and/or a strawberry simple syrup, or a warm berry sauce, or berry jelly, or a fresh berry jam, etc.
Recipe, photo, and post by Maria Perugini of MariaTiramisu.com.
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