Category Archives: Panna Cotta

How to Make Panna Cotta

Exceedingly simple, just the way I like it. Feels like it’s been an awfully long time coming, though, doesn’t it? First, let me thank several very talented pastry people who all wrote in with various tips on this dessert. They were all very much appreciated (though to be 100% honest, I went back to my own method in the end…but it’s been a great — if fattening — adventure).

Overall I should say there are no strict rules about what kind of liquid dairy ingredients you may wish to use: milk, cream, buttermilk. My only advice is to use the best quality stuff you can get your hands on. One of the (several) batches I made was simply conventional ultra-pasteurized cream with whole, un-homogenized milk instead of the buttermilk. It may sound plain, but I’ll tell you, it wasn’t. It rocked.

Also, if you plan to turn these out, you might want to consider using a teaspoon or so of good quality vanilla extract instead of the real bean. It won’t be as aromatic, but you won’t get the little clusters of seeds on the top of your desserts. Vanilla seeds tend to sink, you see…and the bottom of the mold becomes the top. Or you can just cover up the grey-ish blotches a garnish…like some strips of orange or lemon zest. Oh yes, that would be very nice.

Begin by combining the cream, sugar and vanilla (seeds or extract) in a saucepan.

Whisk to combine.

Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture brieflly to the boil, then allow it to sit for ten minutes to cool and allow the flavors to blend.

Sprinkle in your gelatin…

…and whisk thoroughly to incorporate it.

Strain through a fine mesh seive…

You can see a few bits of vanilla husk and a clump or two of gelatin there…

Ladle it into your molds and chill at least two hours or overnight.

That’s it. A bit of an anticlimax after all this, but then the simple things are usually worth the fuss. Or am I just full of it?

Filed under:  Desserts & Cookies, Panna Cotta | 4 Comments

Vanilla-Buttermilk Panna Cotta

One misconception about panna cotta is that it must always be served turned-out, standing on its own like a flan. That to me presents a fundamental problem, which is to say, too much gelatin. My personal feeling is that panna cotta needn’t be terribly firm, just enough to give it a silky and elegant mouthfeel. Much more than that and we get into true “gelatin dessert” territory, where I’d rather not be. This panna cotta can be turned out by either running a sharp knife around the rim of the cup or dipping it briefly in hot water, but don’t expect the presentation to be perfectly geometric.

2 1/3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
2 cups buttermilk

Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla seeds in a sauce pan and whisk to combine. Heat the mixture gently, bringing it up to the boiling point. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Then, while whisking gently, sprinkle in the powdered gelatin and stir until it dissolves. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Add the buttermilk and stir until smooth. Pour into ramekins, cups or glasses and chill for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.

Filed under:  Desserts & Cookies, Panna Cotta | 5 Comments