Panna cotta

Panna cotta

By
From
PS Desserts
Photographer
Mark Roper

This is one of the simplest and most crowd-pleasing desserts there is. I describe panna cotta (which means “cooked cream” in Italian) as a creamy milk jelly. It’s a great dessert to add to your dinner-party repertoire because you can make it ahead of time (it actually tastes better if you do), forget about it while it sets, then pull it out when the time is ready. And it’s easy to infuse this basic recipe with different flavours.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
4 gold-strength gelatine leaves, (see note)
750ml thickened cream, (35% milk fat)
300ml milk
160g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped

Method

  1. Making the panna cotta

    Soak the gelatine in iced water until softened. (If you are using powdered gelatine, place in a small bowl and mix with 2 teaspoons of cold water to soften.)
  2. In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk and sugar and vanilla bean and seeds. (Add your choice of flavourings at this stage, if applicable; see Variations.) Stir and bring to a simmer.
  3. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and stir into the hot cream mixture. (If using powdered gelatine, just add the mixture to the pan as is.) Stir over low heat until the gelatine has completely dissolved, then remove from the heat.
  4. If you have infused a flavour into the panna cotta, for example vanilla or cinnamon, allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes
  5. Strain the mixture into ten 125 ml capacity dariole moulds.
  6. Refrigerate for 4 hours or preferably overnight.
  7. To serve

    To turn out the panna cottas, dip each mould into very hot water and give it a little shake. Turn the mould upside down onto a plate or a pâte sablée biscuit and shake gently to dislodge. It should have a nice wobble.

Note

  • Gelatine comes in several forms. I use gold strength and as a general rule one leaf equals 2 g, so if you only have, for example, titaniumstrength leaves or powdered gelatine, you can substitute 1 gold-strength leaf with 2 g of whatever type of gelatine you have.

    I tend to shun powdered gelatine as I find its flavour unpleasant. Gelatine leaves are available from good supermarkets, specialty food suppliers or online.

Variations

  • Honey panna cotta

    Omit 80 g of the sugar and the vanilla bean. Add 70 g honey to the pan when heating the cream mixture in step 2.

    Pistachio and cinnamon panna cotta

    Omit 50 g of the sugar and the vanilla bean. Add 30 g pistachio paste and a cinnamon stick to the pan when heating the cream mixture in step 2.

    Mascarpone or yoghurt panna cotta

    Omit 400 ml of the cream. Add 400 g mascarpone or yoghurt to the mixture after straining in step 5.

Notes

  • I prefer to use metal dariole moulds as it is easier to turn the panna cotta out, but plastic moulds are fine too.

    I like to turn my panna cottas onto pâte sablée discs to add a crunchy element and a touch of elegance.
Tags:
PS
Desserts
Philippa
Phillipa
Sibley
sweet
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