I really love panna cotta. There’s a little Italian place just around the corner from us (La Capricciosa) that makes an amazing panna cotta, and we often just go there for dessert and coffee after supper at home. But I’ve also had some less-than-great panna cotta, and it’s a real bummer. While the amount of sugar and vanilla is probably more of a personal preference, the consistency is the real kicker for me. While it needs to be able to hold its shape, there’s nothing worse than panna cotta that more resembles creamy Jell-o. Yuck! So I decided to start playing with some recipes at home, and honestly, it took me quite a while to get one that I was really happy with. But after a few less than perfect attempts (everything still got eaten…), I finally have a recipe!
45 mL cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4.5 g powdered gelatin
200 g heavy cream
200 g whole milk
75 g sugar
1 vanilla bean
Combine the water and vanilla extract in a medium bowl, and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Set aside to soften (about 10 minutes).
Meanwhile, combine the heavy cream, milk, and sugar in a medium pot. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise, and use the tip of the knife to scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and bean pods to the milk mixture, and heat until the sugar has completely dissolved and it’s quite warm to the touch. (Note: don’t heat the milk mixture above 70°C, or it will form a skin on top as it cools).
Remove the bean pod, pour the hot milk mixture over the prepared gelatin, and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Divide between 4 glass cups, and refrigerate until set – at least four hours.
I think panna cotta is delicious just as it is, but berries or sauce on top make it even better. As a topping, I chopped up a few strawberries, and tossed them in a few pinches of sugar and a splash of cointreau!
PS: here’s the printable version of this recipe!