Panna Cotta Master Recipe
To my palate, this is the perfect Panna Cotta. It is lightly set and lightly sweetened with a good balance between fat and lean dairy ingredients. If you choose buttermilk or yogurt for the Additional Diary Option, you will have 2 cups of lower fat dairy to 1 cup of cream. You can take this dessert even leaner if you like, but because the portions are small, I seldom go that route.
My favorite way to eat Panna Cotta is with one or two Dessert Syrups alongside and a heap of fresh berries, nectarines, or peaches. In addition, Panna Cotta begs for a sweet and crunchy accompaniment, such as nut brittle or a thin, crisp tuile, sable or shortbread cookie.
1 packet powdered gelatin
¼ cup milk
Sugar & Cream
½ cup cream
½ cup sugar (or honey)
A few options are dried lavender, dried rose petals, fresh basil, fresh rosemary, fresh tarragon, crushed lemongrass, rose water, orange blossom water, vanilla, matcha, orange zest, or lemon zest. Amounts will vary according to the flavor strength of the ingredient and your intended effect.
Additional Dairy Options
1 cup cream, coconut milk, goat milk, buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, cream fraîche, crèma, mascarpone, or any combination thereof. (Up to ½ cup can be citrus juice, espresso, or other liquid.)
¾ cup (6 ounces) cream cheese, fresh goat cheese, or combination thereof, beaten until smooth with ¼ cup milk (should be about the consistency of sour cream or Greek yogurt)
Remaining Milk & Cream
¾ cup milk
½ cup cream
- Soften gelatin: In a small, wide bowl, sprinkle gelatin evenly over ¼ cup cold milk and let stand about 5 minutes, until softened. (This is called “blooming” the gelatin.)
- Dissolve sugar and add flavoring options: In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup cream to a simmer with sugar and cook until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. If desired, add desired flavoring options and infuse for at least 30 minutes. Strain into a clean saucepan.
- Dissolve gelatin: Reheat strained sugar-cream mixture to hot, but not above 130º, and stir in softened gelatin until completely dissolved. (To ensure that gelatin is dissolved, dip a spoon into it, lift out, and look closely for tiny undissolved particles. Keep stirring until all gelatin particles are dissolved.) Let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Combine base ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk 1 cup of your Additional Diary Option and remaining milk and cream until smooth. Whisk cooled gelatin mixture into base mixture.
- Strain: Pour panna cotta mixture through a triple-mesh sieve into a large glass measuring cup with a pour spout. Then pour into six 4-6 ounce ramekins, dessert glasses, or molds. (There’s no need to oil the molds.)
- Set the gelatin: Arrange the panna cottas on an edged baking tray and put into the frig. Lay a sheet of foil over the top. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.
- Serve: To serve, unmold onto dessert plates or present in ramekins or dessert glasses. To unmold, briefly dip the bottom of each mold in a bowl of hot tap water. If necessary (and it never is actually), run a thin knife around the edge of each mold to loosen the panna cotta from the inside of the mold. Wipe the outside of the mold dry and place on individual chilled dessert plate (topside down). Invert the panna cotta onto the dessert plate and carefully lift off the mold (shake gently if necessary).
- Serve with macerated fresh fruit, fruit sauce, Strawberry Lime Salsa, Fresh Blueberry Lime Sauce, Rhubarb Cinnamon-Hot Sauce, or garnish of choice.
Makes six ½-cup servings.
Light as a Feather Panna Cotta
- At Step 4, do not add your Additional Dairy Option, which in this case will be cream.
- Whip 1 cup heavy cream. Reserve.
- At Step 6, pour the Panna Cotta mixture through a triple-mesh sieve into a medium mixing bowl. Set the bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Whisk slowly until the mixture begins to thicken (set).
- Quickly fold in the whipped cream. Spoon the mixture into serving dishes or glasses. (Don’t attempt to unmold this very light Panna Cotta.)
- Proceed to s Step 7.
Panna Cotta Verrine
- To turn any Panna Cotta into the layered-in-a-glass, French dessert known as a Verrine, simply pour a portion of the completed mixture into six individual clear glass serving glasses; frig until somewhat firm; top with gelée, jelly, fresh or cooked fruit compote; add another layer of the Panna Cotta mixture, frig again until somewhat firm; and so forth until the glass is full. You can also layer different flavored Panna Cottas.
Rose Petal and Honey Yogurt Panna Cotta
- At Step 2, substitute honey for sugar.
- At Step 3, add 1 tablespoon dried rose petals.
- At Step 4, use yogurt for the Additional Dairy Option.
Lavender Chevre Panna Cotta
- At Step 3, add 1 tablespoon dried lavender.
- At Step 4, use fresh goat cheese for the Additional Dairy Option.
Candied Ginger Buttermilk Panna Cotta
- At Step 3, add 1 tablespoon minced candied ginger.
- At Step 4, use buttermilk for the Additional Dairy Option.
Rosemary Lemon Sour Cream Panna Cotta
- At Step 3, add 2 sprigs fresh rosemary and finely grated zest of one large lemon.
- At Step 4, use sour cream or crème fraiche for the Additional Dairy Option.
Copyright 2011 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.