Panna Cotta

By Shiran

This rich and silky Italian dessert is a perfectly light treat that takes only minutes to make!

Perfect Panna Cotta | prettysimplesweet.com

Here’s a fact you may not know about me. When I quit my job in the cooperate world, I went on a journey to find myself (whatever that means) and started selling mini baked goods for events. It wasn’t quite as glamorous as I had anticipated, but it paid the bills. Well, barely. With a tiny kitchen and fridge, mini desserts were all I could offer. While that seems so long ago now, there are a few things I remember vividly. One of them is how people went crazy over the mini panna cotta served in shot glasses and topped with berries, and since it was the easiest thing on my menu, I couldn’t have been happier.

Perfect Panna Cotta | prettysimplesweet.com

Panna cotta means ‘cooked cream’ in Italian. It includes very few ingredients, and is basically a simple mixture of cream, sugar, and vanilla. Gelatin is added to set the mixture and create a custard-like consistency. The final product is rich and silky smooth. Despite the heavy cream, this dessert is perfect as a light not-too-sweet dessert after a heavy meal. If you wish to make an even lighter panna cotta, you can replace some of the heavy cream with a lighter cream or milk. I tried it that way a few times and it was still very much delicious.

Perfect Panna Cotta | prettysimplesweet.com

What is gelatin and what is it doing in my panna cotta?

I’m here to save you guys. There’s no need to fear the word “gelatin”. Just because it might be unfamiliar doesn’t mean it’s complicated – and it really isn’t.

Gelatin is made of tiny granules that have no color or flavor, and is used as a thickening agent. Depending on your area, gelatin may be sold in boxes that contain 2 or more envelopes. One envelope usually contains 1/4 – 1/2 oz. (7-14g) of gelatin.

Perfect Panna Cotta | prettysimplesweet.com

To use gelatin, we first sprinkle it over cold water (or another liquid) and let it sit for a few minutes to soften. In the meantime, we prepare our cream mixture by heating cream, sugar, and vanilla together in a saucepan until hot and the sugar is dissolved. Once hot, we add the softened gelatin and immediately whisk until smooth. Adding the gelatin to a hot mixture is what activates it. Make sure the mixture is completely smooth and that there are no little crystals remaining. If there are, bring the saucepan back to the stove and heat very gently without letting the mixture boil (this is very important!) until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

Perfect Panna Cotta | prettysimplesweet.com

 

Panna Cotta
Yields: 4 servings
 

This rich and silky Italian dessert is a perfectly light treat that takes only minutes to make!
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup (60ml) cold water or milk
  • 2¼ teaspoons (7g/0.25 oz.) unflavored powdered gelatin*
  • 2 cups (480ml) heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (50g/1.8 oz.) granulated sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, split and seeded, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions
  1. Place water in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the surface in a single layer. Be sure not to pile it as that will prevent the crystals from dissolving properly. Let stand for 5-10 minutes to soften.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat cream, sugar, vanilla pod, and vanilla seeds on medium heat and bring just to a boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and discard vanilla bean. Stir in gelatin and immediately whisk until smooth and dissolved. If the gelatin hasn’t fully dissolved, return the saucepan to the stove and heat gently over low heat. Stir constantly and don’t let the mixture boil.
  3. Pour cream into 4 individual serving dishes. Refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours, or until completely set.
  4. If you like, top with fresh fruit, berries, fruit sauce, lemon curd, or chocolate sauce.
  5. Panna cotta can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  6. * If using sheet gelatin, use the same weight (7g). Add the sheets to a bowl filled with 2 cups water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then remove the sheets and stir them into the hot panna cotta as directed in the recipe (you don’t need to add it along with the water, such as in powdered gelatin – add the sheets only).

 

Perfect Panna Cotta | prettysimplesweet.com

Perfect Panna Cotta | prettysimplesweet.com

16 Comments on Panna Cotta

  1. Brittaney @ Sips and Snacks
    February 19, 2015 at 7:40 pm (2 years ago)

    These are beautiful! I haven’t made Panna Cotta since culinary school, but I think I should soon!

    Reply
    • Shiran
      February 20, 2015 at 2:47 pm (2 years ago)

      I think you should too 🙂 Thank you!

      Reply
    • Shiran
      February 20, 2015 at 2:47 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you Alicia!

      Reply
  2. Connie the chocoholic
    February 21, 2015 at 1:15 am (2 years ago)

    i started catering for events too just last summer. While you can earn quite a bit if the event is big one, the profit margin is so small. People are always trying to haggle on prices when really they should understand how much ingredients and time cost!

    lovely panna cotta btw, and i learned something new bout gelatin!

    Reply
    • Shiran
      February 22, 2015 at 4:26 am (2 years ago)

      I know exactly what you’re saying Connie! I’m a perfectionist so it was very hard for me. I wanted every single cupcake to look just right and it didn’t pay off eventually, since it took so much time. That’s how customers are though, and it’s something you just have to be patient with 🙂 I used to be the same, always trying to get the best price, but now that I understand what it’s like to have your own small business, I almost never do that. Having my business was still fun though, and so many of my customers were nice and easy to work with! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Winnie
    February 22, 2015 at 3:49 am (2 years ago)

    אחת המנות הכי אלגנטיות שיש
    פשוט נראה נפלאאאאאאאאאאא

    Reply
    • Shiran
      February 22, 2015 at 4:16 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you so much Winnie! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Carolina
    February 22, 2015 at 6:50 am (2 years ago)

    Great recipe!!I prepared it yesterday and ate it just a few minutes ago…AMAZINGLY GOOD! Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Shiran
      February 22, 2015 at 7:18 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you so much Carolina! 🙂

      Reply
      • Sophie
        February 25, 2015 at 7:43 am (2 years ago)

        it looks so beautiful&delicious!!Thanks for sharing the recipe!You inspired me,thank you!

        Reply
        • Shiran
          February 25, 2015 at 8:46 am (2 years ago)

          Thank you so much Sophie! 🙂

          Reply
  5. Indu
    March 25, 2016 at 11:12 am (10 months ago)

    Thanks, wonderful recipe, my pennacotta didn’t set,I used China grass but I didn’t cover with plastic wrap. It was in liquid state what’s the reason, can you tell please

    Reply
    • Shiran
      March 27, 2016 at 4:47 am (10 months ago)

      Hi Indu, did you use China grass before or know how to use it (for example that it needs to be dissolved in water and then later brought to a boil)?. Do you know how to substitute it with gelatin? Did you give it enough time to set in the fridge? I don’t have much experience with this product but it should give same result as gelatin.

      Reply
      • Indu
        March 27, 2016 at 2:14 pm (10 months ago)

        Hi Shiran,
        Thanks for your reply, I searched online but no adequate info for how to use china grass in pannacotta, I never knew the info you shared, I used 2 tsps of china grass for 250 ml of cream and same amount of milk, I let it set for more than 12 hours, I get veg gelatin in nearby sainsburys so I can use it instead but can you teach how to use china grass ( for anything) .

        Reply
        • Shiran
          March 28, 2016 at 4:34 am (10 months ago)

          Hi Indu 🙂 An online search (China grass is also called agar agar) would give you a lot of information on how to use it (in general, not necessarily in panna cotta). It seems like it needs to be dissolved in water and then brought to a boil. Since I haven’t tried this product myself, I can’t tell you exactly how to use it, but it should be quite simple!

          Reply

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