Panna Cotta

June 2, 2021

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Rich and creamy Panna Cotta! It’s an easy to make dessert that is undeniably delicious. Especially when it’s enhanced with a vibrant and gorgeously red, tempting, fresh raspberry sauce!

Photo: Single serving of a disk of Panna Cotta shown on a blue plate covered with raspberry sauce, fresh blueberries and mint.

All About Panna Cotta

What is panna cotta anyway?

Panna Cotta is a popular chilled Italian dessert made of cream (and often milk) that is sweetened with sugar, flavored with vanilla and uses gelatin to thicken and hold its form.

Panna cotta in Italian translates to “cooked cream.”

This dessert can be served straight from the cups it’s chilled in or unmolded and inverted into dessert plates.

To me it is something reminiscent of ice cream and jello. Though it’s the best upgrade you could ever imagine to traditional jello because cream makes everything better.

Plus this has a more welcome, more melt-in-your-mouth-like texture than jello does.

Panna Cotta can also be made with other flavor variations as well. Other popular flavors include chocolate panna cotta, mango, coconut, coffee and lemon.

This is a must try treat that’s perfectly refreshing on a hot summers eve. And of course it’s a dessert people of all ages will love!

Photo: Eight servings of panna cotta shown in glass dessert cups.

Panna Cotta Recipe Ingredients

You only need 7 basic ingredients!

  • 3 Tbsp cold water
  • 4 tsp (12 g) gelatin
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Image of ingredients used to make panna cotta. Includes whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, gelatin, vanilla, salt and water.Photo: Collage of four images first two showing steps to making gelatin mixture, second showing making milk mixture for panna cotta.

How to Make Panna Cotta

  1. Bloom gelatin: Pour water into a bowl, add gelatin all at once and mix right away. Let rest at least 5 minutes.
  2. Prepare ice bath: Fill a large bowl with a few cups of ice and enough cold water to come about halfway up the bowl.
  3. Simmer dairy, sugar and salt: Meanwhile in a large saucepan bring heavy cream, milk, sugar and salt to a simmer stirring frequently to dissolve sugar, remove from heat.
  4. Melt gelatin, pour into dairy mixture: Immediately following heat gelatin mixture in the microwave for 10 seconds to melt mixture to liquid form and then right away pour into cream mixture and whisk for 30 seconds.
  5. Cool in ice bath: Set saucepan over ice bath and stir with a spoon until it’s cool to the touch. Stir in vanilla.
  6. Pour into individual cups: Divide mixture among 8 (6 oz.) ramekins (or use wine glasses/dessert cups), adding slightly over 1/2 cup to each.
  7. Chill until set: Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

Photo: Collage of four photos showing gelatin added to milk mixture in saucepan, cooling milk mixture in ice bath, adding vanilla, then pouring panna cotta into ramekins.

How to Unmold and Serve

  1. You can serve panna cotta right from the cups, or to unmold run a thin sharp knife around the inside edge of the ramekin then dip the ramekin in very hot water for about 5 – 10 seconds (be sure not to let water flow over top!).
  2. Then using fingertip gently pull the panna cotta from the inner edges to help peel it away from the sides, then invert onto dessert plate and tap to help unmold.
  3. Top with a berry sauce if desired. Other delicious toppings would be a blueberry sauce, mango sauce or strawberry sauce.

Helpful Tips for the Best Panna Cotta

  • I found the ratio of gelatin to dairy I preferred (for setting purposes) was 1 tsp per cup. Enough to hold it together but not too much to make it stiff and rubbery.
  • Don’t skip blooming gelatin. It needs to be soaked in water first to ensure gelatin dissolves evenly and for the best finished texture.
  • Don’t overheat the gelatin (especially for an extended period of time) or its setting strength will weaken. That’s why here we add it after simmering the mixture.
  • Be sure to plan ahead and allow enough time for the panna cotta to thoroughly set in the fridge so it’s not runny.
  • Avoid freezer chilling to speed up setting. It won’t set properly. Also keep in mind panna cotta should never be frozen even after setting.
  • Boost flavor by finishing with a sauce or even fresh fruit.
  • Keep stored in refrigerated and always serve cold for best texture.

Photo: Three servings of homemade panna cotta shown on dessert plates on a white marble surface.

More Refreshing Desserts to Try

Photo: Single serving of a disk of Panna Cotta shown on a blue plate covered with raspberry sauce, fresh blueberries and mint.
5 from 2 votes

Panna Cotta

A rich and creamy, easy to make, classic Italian dessert! It has a melt-in-your-mouth texture and it's deliciously refreshing. I highly recommend serving with a flavorful fruit sauce, such as the recipe listed in the notes.
Servings: 8
Prep25 minutes
Cook10 minutes
Chill4 hours
Ready in: 4 hours 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp cold water
  • 4 tsp (12 g) gelatin
  • 3 cups (710 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (235 ml) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Pour water into a bowl, add gelatin all at once and mix right away. Let rest at least 5 minutes.
  • Fill a very large bowl with a few cups of ice and enough cold water to come about halfway up the bowl.
  • Meanwhile in a large saucepan bring heavy cream, milk, sugar and salt to a simmer stirring frequently to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat once it simmers.
  • Immediately following, heat gelatin mixture in the microwave on high power for 10 - 15 seconds to melt mixture to liquid form and then right away pour into cream mixture and whisk for 30 seconds.
  • Set saucepan over ice bath in large bowl, and stir with a spoon until it's cool to the touch. Stir in vanilla.
  • Divide mixture among 8 (6 oz.) ramekins (or use wine glasses/dessert cups), adding slightly over 1/2 cup to each.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.
  • You can serve right from the cups or to unmold run a thin sharp knife around the inside edge of the ramekin then dip the ramekin in very hot water for about 5 - 10 seconds (be sure not to let water flow over top!).
  • Then using fingertip gently pull the panna cotta from the inner edges to help peel it away from the sides, then invert onto dessert plate and tap to help unmold.
  • Top with a berry sauce if desired (recipe in notes, not included in nutrition estimate as this is optional).

Notes

For the Raspberry Sauce

(Not included in nutrition estimate)
  1. In a small saucepan combine 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries, 6 Tbsp sugar and 1/3 cup water.
  2. Heat mixture over medium heat and let simmer for a few minutes until raspberries begin to break down.
  3. In a small bowl stir together 1 Tbsp water with 1.5 tsp cornstarch, pour into raspberry mixture and let cook until thickened.
  4. Strain mixture by pouring portions at a time into sieve and pressing on mixture to remove seeds and extract puree into a bowl beneath.
  5. Chill through in the fridge.
Nutrition Facts
Panna Cotta
Amount Per Serving
Calories 386 Calories from Fat 306
% Daily Value*
Fat 34g52%
Saturated Fat 21g131%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 10g
Cholesterol 125mg42%
Sodium 67mg3%
Potassium 109mg3%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Sugar 14g16%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 1361IU27%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 94mg9%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.