Vanilla Panna Cotta – The Valentine’s Day Dessert You Want

Feb 12, 2021 | desserts, Recipes

When you look at a panna cotta, it seems like it should be hard to make. It gives off the impression of being this super elegant dessert that you can only get in fancy restaurants. But, it isn’t that at all. It’s actually a really simple dessert. Milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and gelatine, that’s all there is to it. It’s like a very light and elegant pudding. You can make it in under twenty minutes, then throw it in the fridge for a few hours to set. It is a great make-ahead dessert that anyone can put together. It also is a great way to finish the Chef’s Notes Valentine’s Day meal series, which is a three-course meal I’ve been sharing over the past week. You can check out the appetizer and the main course here. If you are looking for a simple dessert to end a romantic meal or something quick you can make for a nice family dinner, panna cotta is the answer. Let’s get to it.


Working With Gelatine

To make panna cotta, you have to use gelatine, something you may or may not be familiar with. Don’t worry, it’s not hard to work with, but there are some things you need to know. First of all, you can find gelatine in any grocery store. It most often comes in powdered form and is usually found in the baking aisle. When working with gelatine, you have to bloom it first. All that means is that you mix the powdered gelatine with cold water and let it sit for a few minutes to hydrate. Then, you have to heat the gelatine until it melts and turns from opaque to translucent. It’s easiest to do this by setting the bowl containing the gelatine over a pot of boiling or simmering water. The gelatine will turn to a liquid in a minute or two and turn clear in another minute or so. Now your gelatine is ready to use.


Making Panna Cotta

To make your panna cotta pour one cup of whole milk (you can also use 2%) and one cup of whipping cream into a 2 qt pot. Add half a cup of sugar and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Put the pot on the stove on medium-high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the dairy is just about to boil. Take the pot off the heat and whisk the mixture into the bloomed gelatine.


Cooling The Panna Cotta

The traditional way to serve panna cotta is to let it set in a ramekin, then unmold it, so you have this nice white jiggly dessert on your plate. You can do this, it’s not difficult, and it looks nice. You can also leave it in the ramekin if you’d prefer. If you’re not going to unmold the panna cotta, I suggest setting it in clear glasses. It will look amazing. To cool and set the panna cotta, pour it into four dishes, whatever you’d like. Cover the dish with plastic wrap, making sure to push the plastic right down onto the surface of the panna cotta to prevent a film from forming. Put the dishes in the fridge for at least three hours to set.


Unmolding The Panna Cotta

Again, unmolding the panna cotta is optional, but it really does add a bit of WOW! to the dessert. To unmold the panna cotta, place the ramekin in a bowl of hot water and let it sit for about fifteen seconds. Take it out of the water, run a knife around the inside of the ramekin, put a plate on top of the ramekin and flip it over. You will likely have to jiggle the ramekin a little to get the panna cotta to let go.


What to serve with your panna cotta.

Serve the panna cotta with fresh berries, a fruit compote or a bit of jam. Whatever you’d prefer will be just fine. I opted for jam, but I will share my blueberry compote recipe at the end of the post.


panna cotta

Vanilla Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta is a surprisingly simple dessert that is the perfect way to cap off a romantic meal or even a family dinner.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Dessert, No-bake dessert, Panna Cotta, Valentine’s Day
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef’s Notes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package powdered gelatin
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  • In a 2 qt pot, combine the cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Put the pot on the stove on medium heat. Heat the mixture, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the milk is just on the verge of boiling.
  • Pour the water into a medium-sized, heatproof bowl. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin of the water and stir it in. Let the gelatine sit for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Put a medium pot on the stove with an inch of water in the bottom. Turn the burner on high and bring the water to a boil.
  • Set the bowl with the gelatine and water over the boiling water and heat until the mixture is liquid and clear.
  • Pour the hot milk mixture into the gelatin and whisk to combine.
  • Pour the milk mixture into four ramekins, cover with plastic wrap, making sure to push the wrap down on the surface of the panna cotta to prevent a film from forming on the surface. Put the dishes in the fridge for at least 3 hours to cool and set.
  • Serve the panna cotta either in the ramekin or unmold it by dipping the ramekin in hot water for 15 seconds, then flipping it over onto a plate and giving it a little shake until the panna cotta breaks free. Serve it with fresh berries, a fruit compote or a bit of jam.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

The Wrap Up

If you really want to impress someone or just want something delicious to finish a meal, look no further. Panna cotta is what you’ve been looking for. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this Chef’s Notes Valentine’s Day mini-series and that you make one or all the parts of this meal. If you do, I’d love to hear about it. You can tell me the comments below or on social media @chefbenkelly. Thank you, everyone, and have a great weekend. Oh, and you can find the other two courses to this meal here and here.


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About me

Blueberry Compote

The perfect sauce for your Charcuterie Board, or for roasted or grilled pork.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: Basic Sauces, Christmas, Holiday, Pork, pork chops
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef’s Notes

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot or onion
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tsp fresh chopped thyme

Instructions

  • Heat a small pot over medium heat. Add the canola oil and shallot. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the shallots start to soften.
  • Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until a spoon dragged across the bottom of the pot, leaves a line for at least one second.
  • Cool to room temperature and serve.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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