Apr 30, 2011

Panna Cotta recipe

The other day, when I pointed out panna cotta to one of my clients during a foodie walk, he returned a puzzled look.

Panna Cotta is a silky, light textured dessert from Northern Italy. It is served chilled and usually drizzled with wild berry sauce, caramel or melted dark chocolate.
panna cotta in a pool of chocolate and fresh raspberries

The name literally translates to, "cooked cream," it's ridiculously easy to make and can be prepared up to two days ahead, as long as kept well-covered and chilled. Some suggest to actually make ahead for added flavor.

To impress your guests with authentic panna cotta, here's what you need to do with:

500 ml (2 cups) heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin (I find it in sheets. I use 3, the equivalent of 6 grams)
150 g (3/4 cup) confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Ramekins, parfait or custard cups, muffin pans, Martini glasses, or shot glasses

Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove the saucepan from the stove, and stir in the vanilla extract. Purists can on the other hand scrape the inside of a vanilla bean.

Soak the gelatin in a medium bowl with cold water for 5-10 minutes.

Pour the hot cream mixture over the gelatin, and stir until dissolved. If you're using sheet gelatin, first soften the sheets in 4 cups of cold water for 5-10 minutes. Wring the sheets out, discard the water and stir the softened sheets into the hot panna cotta mixture, whisking until blended.

Pour the mixture in individual serving containers, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 4 hours or until set.

When ready to serve, dip the bottom of each container into a bowl of very hot water for a few seconds. Place a serving plate on top and turn over to easily dislodge.

Decorate your panna cotta with mint leaves and either a thin raspberry coulis, warmed caramel sauce or melted dark chocolate. 

If you're in a rush, pour the panna cotta mixture into Martini goblets so you can serve them without unmolding; sprinkled with only a few chocolate shavings and a dash of cinnamon.


  1. Ah, what memories. When I visited a friend in Milan several years ago, the hotel featured panna cotta on its buffet. I could not believe how fantastic it was and ate it every time I had the chance. Yum!

    Thanks for the wonderful recipe...If I ever make it I probably will eat it all by myself.

  2. I love that you have this with berries and chocolate! I also am all about ease - and this is easy and still elegant.

  3. I think this is one of the loveliest, heavenly desserts - so light and airy. The problem is, I could eat two or three in an instant!

  4. This sounds lovely. It reminds me of a Bavarian creme which I often make.

  5. This sounds fabulous - we had Panna Cotta with fig sauce on Salina Island and still talk about how good it was.

    One question..you say to sprinkle the gelatin in a bowl of cold water - how much water?

    I will make this once I understand that detail!


  6. Looks awfully mouthwatering good Lola, as always... I'm off to bed where I can dream about it, visions of panna cotta will dance in my head...

  7. I LOVE Panacotta!
    never knew it was so easy to make, I've been buying it in M&S!
    This may vie for 1st place with your No BAke Raspberry tart (or maybe not...)

  8. che blog meraviglioso! non ti conoscevo ora me lo segno subito tra i preferiti :-) e deliziosa questa panna cotta! ciao Ely

  9. Andras~

    Some pleasures are best enjoyed in solitude...

    If possible, why not make life easier? ;)

    I know, one portion is never really enough. Similar to Bavarese, you're right.

    A small bowl will do, with say a cup of water. It has to be cold, and if you see the gelatin needs more water, just add it. I'm sorry I'm terrible with exact quantities!

    Sweet dreams, then! :)

    It belongs to the same "I'm-lazy-can't-bake-dessert-today" category as the Raspberry Tart...

    Great minds think alike ;)

    Che piacere la tua visita, grazie!
    Spero di rivederti presto in questa mia picola ciber-cucina casalinga.

  10. What would I ask for to buy heavy cream here? Double cream doesnt seem to exsist, the only fresh cream I have ever found is very runny and comes in small pink tetrapaks in the milk secton of the fridge.

  11. Oh I have just come across your blog through another- and I am in bliss! You are doing everything I yearn for- you are living my dream!
    I will no doubt be booking into one of your Italian food tours when I'm over there soon.
    Can't wait to continue to follow your blog- I love it from what I've seen alreaydy.

  12. I love Panna Cotta! I'll have to try your recipe, I've only made the 'just add water' ones (I say 'made' loosely)

  13. Hi Lola, Melt in your mouth goodness..
    Love that, ~Panna Cotta~

  14. Charlie~
    You describe Italian supermarket UHT heavy cream very well. Double cream can't be found here, and frankly for this recipe it's too rich. Half-and-half works for this dish overseas, but here in the Boot, you'll have to do with panna liquida. I use a very good, organic French imported brand that's sold fresh in cartons at my neighborhood Auchan.

    Thank you! I'm so happy you like it here!! To never miss an update, why not subscribe to my feed?

    This one's easy too, but soooo much better tasting!

    And so refreshing too!

  15. Hi Lola,
    I'm used to buy Panna Cotta @ the groceries' store. I'm sure this is absolutely better! and as you said really easy.
    When you said Heat the cream with the sugar, does it has to boil?


  16. Alicia~
    Thanks for bringing this up, I should've specified: heat the cream and sugar, but just to before it reaches boiling point! :)

  17. I can't wait to try this! When you cover it with plastic wrap does it need to touch the top like when you make pudding? Does it have a tendency of forming a skin?

  18. Michele~
    No need to do that, Panna cotta does not form a skin. Actually the plastic wrap SHOULD NOT touch the surface! The gelatin would otherwise set with the plastic wrap, making it virtually impossible to remove!

  19. Panna cotta is one of my favorite things to eat, even if I don't have much of a sweet tooth. When it's nice a creamy and silky, it's such a delight!

    And then there's the rubbery kind... how do you keep your's from getting rubbery? I've heard that the secret is not to let it set too long, rather than the amount of gelatin. Do you agree?