Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Vanilla Panna Cotta

A traditional Italian dessert, "panna cotta" means "cooked cream". It has the smooth, silky texture of custard and is served with fresh berries, caramel or chocolate. It takes only a few minutes to make the mixture but it needs several hours to set up, so be sure to plan ahead. While easy to make, this dessert has a beautiful presentation and will make you look like a rock star.

Vanilla Panna Cotta...
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1 (1/4 oz.) packet unflavored gelatin
2 cups fresh berries

1. Put 3 tbsp. water in a small bowl, pour gelatin over the top and mix. Let the gelatin dissolve in the water.
2. Heat sugar, milks and cream in a saucepan until sugar dissolves (don't boil or let it get too hot).
3. Add gelatin to milk/cream mixture and whisk to make sure it is completely incorporated with no lumps. Add vanilla.

4. Let mixture sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile wash and cap berries (slice if berries are large). Toss with 1/4 cup sugar, cover and put in the fridge.
5. Divide cream mixture between 4 ramekins (or other serving dishes). Place in fridge for at least 6 hours.

At this point you have two plating options. Panna cotta is typically inverted onto the serving plate and the berries, caramel or chocolate poured decoratively over the top. (To release the custard from the ramekin, carefully go around the edge with a butter knife, then put the cup in some hot water for a minute. It should slip right out onto your serving dish.) However, these pretty white ramekins also looked lovely with the red of the berries... plus I didn't have to dirty any more plates! So serve it however you like.

If you were making this for a large group (say a bridal shower or garden party), get nice-quality clear plastic cups and fill them about 1/3 full of the cream mixture. Once set, fill another 1/3 of the cup with berries and top with a sprig of mint or other decoration. Keep chilled until time to serve.


Amy said...

i will be making this shortly. YUM!

Anonymous said...

Okay - do you seriously cook like this? If so, please feel free to drop by with one of your deliciousnesses in hand at any time of the day.

Thank you very much!