desserts | fruit | gelatin | gluten-free | no-bake | recipe | strawberry | vanilla

Panna Cotta, a.k.a. “Cooked Cream.”

June 10, 2008

Panna Cotta is a perfect hot weather dessert. Its like the lovechild of gelatin based desserts and pudding, or alternately, if flan, Jello and pudding had a baby born in Italy. “Panna Cotta” literally means “cooked cream.” It originated in the Northern Italian region of Piedmont, but all over Italy they eat this dish with fresh fruit, berries and chocolate sauce. Its pretty much 100° in New York, and you could fry an egg on the sidewalk… so no baking. But this is a nice refreshing dessert thay requires little heat and a lot of enjoyment. This is an Ina Garten recipe, so of course its good. Expect more Ina recipes coming soon… I have a few I wanna try.

I’m including the balsamic-vinegar-strawberry-topping-recipe with this, I personally don’t like strawberries (or balsamic vinegar) but I made it for the rest of the family to enjoy. I ate mine with some chocolate chips on top because I’m a kid at heart and fancy-shmancy stuff doesn’t thrill me. But fresh peaches (or even canned) would work on this, even fresh strawberries, blueberries or raspberries. Use your imagination. Even caramel sauce would be delish.


Get ya grubby hands on:

  • ½ packet (1 teaspoon) unflavored gelatin powder (like Knox)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cold water
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 pints (4 cups) sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated lemon zest, for serving

To make the panna cotta, then you gotta:

  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on 1 ½ tablespoons of cold water. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to dissolve. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together ¾ cup of the cream, the yogurt, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds.
  2. Heat the remaining ¾ cup of cream and the 1/3 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Off the heat, add the softened gelatin to the hot cream and stir to dissolve. Pour the hot cream-gelatin mixture into the cold cream-yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Pour into 4 (6 to 8-ounce) ramekins or custard cups and refrigerate uncovered until cold. When the panna cottas are thoroughly chilled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Combine the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, and pepper 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. Set aside at room temperature.
  4. To serve, run a small knife around each dessert in the ramekin and dip the bottom of each ramekin quickly in a bowl of hot tap water. Invert each ramekin onto a dessert plate and surround the panna cotta with strawberries. Dust lightly with freshly grated lemon zest and serve.

I didn’t use ramekins, I used rounded bottom dessert cups. Use whatever you want, as long as it’ll be easy to remove the panna cotta from it (i.e. no plastic containers, use glass/porcelain). You could probably make one big panna cotta in a big porcelain bowl, too. Then just slice it, or have everyone dig in with a spoon.

The consensus is: Excellent. Definitely would make this again. Everyone loved the balsamic strawberries too. Go Ina! Another point for the Barefoot Contessa!

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  2. Thankfully there was a break in the heatwave… we’re back to 83. But for a week straight it was over 95!

    Yeah everyone loved this recipe… so it comes highly recommended 😉

  3. I really want to make this but I am wondering is this panna cotta gelatinous. I am really looking for a panna cotta that is more creamy in texture. I have tried several and have not been sucessful at all. Thanks so much in advance.

  4. Hmm.. it is a bit gelatinous due to, well, the gelatin haha… but I found it was pretty creamy. It holds the shape well which would be more on the gelatinous side but on the other hand it was indeed creamy.

    I know thats no help at all! Sorry!

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