PANNA COTTA is a delicate dessert of mysterious history and Piemontese tradition. The name means cooked cream. For me it is a life saver as everybody likes it, it’s incredibly simple to make and looks beautiful. In addition one can make endless variations by changing the topping or adding flavors to the milk and cream mixture. Caramel or melted chocolate make a wonderful instant topping.
- 4 leaves/8 gr unflavored gelatin (see here how to use it)
- 300 ml full fat milk (1 and 1/3 cup)
- 300 ml whipping cream ( 1 and 1/3 cup)
- 140 gr sugar (2/3 cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the panna cotta:
Put the gelatin in cold water. Let it soak until softened, about 10 minutes. Whisk cream, sugar, milk and vanilla in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring a few times until the sugar dissolves and the cream starts to simmer. Remove the gelatin from the water and add it to the milk and cream mixture, stirring to dissolve. Divide the mixture among 6 dessert bowls. Cool desserts uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate until set (approx. 3 hours).
For a cold fruit topping:
- 2 cup strawberries or two peaches or mixed berries, cleaned and thinly sliced or cubed (do not cut up berries if they are small)
- 1/2 cup white vermouth, sweet wine or Amaretto
- juice of half lemon
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Toss fruit, vermouth , sugar, and lemon juice in large bowl to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 h. For children, use only lemon juice and sugar. Spoon over the panna cotta and serve.
For a warm fruit topping:
- 2 cups whole fresh or frozen berries or cherries.
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons Cointreau or other aromatic liqueur
- 1 teaspoon butter
Place a non-reactive pan on high heat and when quite warm add the butter. As soon as it starts sizzling, add berries and sugar. Frozen berries should defreeze quickly without loosing their shape. Add liqueur from a small glass. The mixture will flambé. Turn off the fire as soon as the flames subside and serve.
N.B. Do not reduce the amount of cream or dessert might not set . Four sheets of gelatin are equivalent to one American or Canadian package. One envelope should solidify firmly 2 cups of liquid and softly 3 cups. For pannacotta you need a soft set.