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Panna Cotta

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Daniel had some friends over for dinner the other day. For dessert they brought along some Panna Cotta. It was quite nice, so I asked for the recipe. Which turned out to be rather simple. All you need is

Panna Cotta recipe

half a litre of cream, a few spoons of sugar, vanilla and a three leaves of gelatine. I was quite keen on trying that out as I’ve never used gelatine for cooking myself. The process is rather simple. You add the sugar and vanilla to the cream and boil it. While that’s happening, you put the gelatine in a bowl of water, so it can soak a bit. After the gelatine is soft and the cream has boiled a bit, you take the cream off the stove, add the gelatine and stir it under.

Then you put the resulting liquid in a large glass dish, or in serving size glasses. As what you’ll be eating is essentially pure cream, remember to keep the servings small. Let them cool for an hour or two and then put them into the fridge, so they can become properly solid. That’s it.

Read-to-eat Panna Cotta in a glass

Using proper vanilla to do this is probably the preferred method, but it’s rather pricey. So we settled for a compromise between ordinary vanilla sugar and the real stuff: A sort of poncy vanilla sugar that’s made with Bourbon vanilla and has those black dots in it. While I’m not 100% sure how natural the whole thing was, its vanilla taste and colour was much more intense than that of ordinary vanilla sugar, giving you a strong vanilla taste in your Panna Cotta. As the Panna Cotta only solidfies slowly, you’ll find all the black bits of the vanilla sugar at the bottom of the glass, which is a bit of a shame and actually looks rather weird.

The vanilla taste may be all nice and dandy but it’s not too exciting, so you can add further things to the dessert. We used ‘Rote Grütze’ for that, a German berry dessert which is quite nice. But I guess that fresh strawberries or blueberries might have been even better.

What still irritates me, though, is that the recipe is so simple. Perhaps it was just a simple student version that I got hold of. I’m also interested to try some variations. Making it with slight less fat – perhaps just a quarter litre of cream with a quarter litre of milk. Not that I’m into dieting now but with the current recipe, you basically end up feeling very stuffed after only eating a little. That way, you might be able to eat more. I’d also be curious to see how using coconut milk would work out. That wouldn’t be properly Italian, but sounds quite good.

Panna Cotta in its glass, upside down

July 25, 2005, 1:01

Tagged as recipe.


Comment by Christian: User icon

Nope, you are right, thats the genuine receipe for Panna Cotta - Cream, Sugar, Vanilla, Gelatine. Thats all.

If thats too rich for you, someone here made “Panna Cotta” with low-fat milk (NO cream!) and a dietary sugar replacement…

And about the dots at the bottom of the glass: Panna Cotta is usually made in small dishes and then turned over, thus putting the dots on top.

August 8, 2005, 16:52

Comment by Norisham: User icon

Came across your web page. Yeah, that is the true receipe for panna cotta. Made one myself ages ago. Got the receipe from a pastry chef. To balance the richness of the cream, make a sauce that is rich in flayour to blend well with it.

March 22, 2006, 17:16

Comment by Marged: User icon

Nigel Slater has a good variation using half and half thick Greek yogurt as well as cream, with rosewater as well as the vanilla pod grains for flavour. It works brilliantly. Source: Nigel Slater, The Kitchen Diaries.

June 24, 2006, 16:58

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