Sunday, June 5, 2011

Panna Cotta

 This recipe is for the Cup theme for the Cookbook Challenge, which I'm actually a couple days late for, oops. "Panna cotta" is Italian for "cooked cream", which kind of sounds like it's served hot or warm, but it's actually served cold. You cook cream, milk, and sugar together and then add gelatin and let it set in the refrigerator. As my husband says, it's like cream Jell-O.
It fits into the "cup" theme because you mold it in custard cups or small ramekins, and then turn it out onto a plate and top it with fresh fruit or fruit sauce.
This is a simple vanilla-flavored panna cotta, but it can be really fun to experiment with different flavors.
The recipe is from The Joy of Cooking, the 1997 revised edition. Cookbook snobs tend to turn their nose up at this edition because it's quite different from the original, but it's actually a really amazing, comprehensive cookbook. Also, it's dear to my heart because it was my first cookbook. My mother bought it for me for Christmas in 2000. I do own the original version as well, but it's packed away in a box somewhere, so I'm not sure if panna cotta is in it or not.

2 1/4 tsp (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
fruit sauce and/or sliced fresh fruit

Lightly oil six 4- to 6-ounce cups or molds.
Pour 3 tablespoons water into a small bowl. Sprinkle unflavored gelatin over the top. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften.
Combine heavy cream, milk, vanilla bean if using, and sugar in a saucepan.

Stirring, bring to a boil over medium high heat. Remove from the heat and extract the vanilla bean. Add the gelatin and stir for 1 minute until completely dissolved. Stir in vanilla if not using the vanilla bean and almond extract.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cups and refrigerate until firmly set, about 3 hours.

Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of each cream and refrigerate up to 3 days. Unmold onto plates and serve with fruit sauce and/or sliced fresh fruit.

To easily unmold from a custard cup, just stick a butter knife down one side and it will thwop out.
I topped these with the blueberry jam that I made for the last Cookbook Challenge, which for some reason didn't thicken very well and so it turned into more of a blueberry sauce.
I also topped some of them with diced, cooked peaches.


  1. Only tasted panna cotta for the first time last year and it was far better than I expected - haven't even seen a copy of the joy of cooking but would love to because I read about it on blogs - I think it is similar to our Cookery the Australian Way which I grew up on in Australia

  2. This looks so so good! I'm sure it goes perfectly with your blueberry jam. I'm a huge fan of blueberries, so in my opinion, anything with blueberries must be pretty awesome:)

  3. I agree, Kayla! I'm practically obsessed with blueberries.