recipe box vanilla panna cotta
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An Italian Panna Cotta Recipe That Is Easy And Delicious

This Italian Panna Cotta recipe is an amazing dessert that is creamy and sweet and will be as popular with you and your whole family as it is here in our home.

Italian Panna Cotta Recipe - Delicious Dessert

Delicious Dessert

When I first came to Rome as a tourist I was wrong about what Panna Cotta was. I was thinking it was a flourless chocolate cake (torta caprese) or a multi layered pastry (millefoglie) dessert, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. My first time accidentally ordering this dessert was after an amazing dinner, dining al fresco in the shadow of the Colosseum. This amazing hosteria is no longer in business, but the impact it has had on me will live with me forever because I am reminded of the great meals we had there every time I walk our dog past the shuttered restaurant. Another thanks to Rick Steves for an amazing recommendation.

What Does Panna Cotta Literally Mean?

If I had spent any time thinking about the translation of Panna Cotta, it would have been obvious that my expectations were pretty far afield. Panna translates to cream and Cotta means cooked. The simple and accurate name of the dish understates how delicious it is and how well it goes with a nice espresso after a meal.

Kitchen Tools And Cookware

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Pasta MakerGnocchi BoardPasta BoardRavioli Maker
Ravioli Press/StamperRicerBialetti Pasta PotBamboo Cutting Board Set of 3
Silpat Baking MatSantoku KnifeMeasuring Cups and SpoonsStainless Mixing Bowls
Dutch OvenMesh StrainersStainless ColanderStainless Steel Fry Pan

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Don’t buy cheap plastic cups and spoons because this stainless steel set will last a really long time!

How To Make A Panna Cotta Recipe Like Jamie Oliver

For a traditional panna cotta, there are only four ingredients, so I wouldn’t recommend anything more complex, as is Jamie Oliver’s way. I generally don’t like his versions of what he believes are Italian dishes because they are made for Brits, who wouldn’t know good food if it came up to them and said “God Save The King!”. The garbage pseudo-Italian dishes I’ve seen made by British “chefs” are inauthentic, pretentious and annoying, but he has made a boatload of money shoveling that nonsense, so what can I say.

italian panna cotta recipe - Simple Ingredients

Simple Ingredients

For some reason that escapes me, he uses skim milk, yogurt and no sugar. First of all, cream (Panna) is in the name, so it is kind of a requirement. Secondly, his recipe calls for natural yoghurt, and I’m assuming that means unsweetened, so where does the sweetness come from? Also, I’m not sure what vanilla bean paste is, so I would suggest a real vanilla bean or vanilla extract. Lastly, his topping is a weird roasting of rhubarb and runny honey, which apart from being inauthentic is seemingly really nasty. Just skip his recipe and use this one. You can thank me later.

What Kind Of Cream Do You Use For This Italian Panna Cotta Recipe?

Despite some recipes I’ve read (see above) you need heavy cream. You can’t really substitute milk, yogurt and a vegan option like oat or almond milk. Again, it is in the name, Panna! If you try an alternative it will throw off the creamy texture and your panna cotta might also turn out too watery. Stick with the traditional heavy cream.

This Italian Panna Cotta Recipe Takes How Long To Set In The Fridge?

Mixing Bowls

Only recently have a realized how great mixing bowls with lids are and these stainless steel beauties are amazing!

Most recipes call for 4-6 hours in the refrigerator for the gelatin to fully set, but I’ve had trouble with that in the past, so my recommendation is that you put the completed panna cotta in the refrigerator overnight to minimize the risk. Also, and this is something I didn’t do, you should cover the panna cotta with a cling film / saran wrap to prevent the skin on top. This is similar to the pudding skin and should be avoided on your first attempt. After that, see if you like it because some people do.

This Italian Panna Cotta Recipe Uses How Much Gelatin?

Yes you can, but you can also put in too little. I used the gelatin sheets and I even weighed them to make sure they were the right amount. If you need to use the powder, check to make sure they are equivalent amounts. I keep seeing a comparison of 1 sheet of gelatin being equal to 1 teaspoon, but given different sizes of sheets, I would recommend also comparing weight and having those be equal as well.

Remember, too much gelatin will leave this delicious and delicate dessert rubbery and a little too firm. Too little gelatin will result in a watery puddle and no matter how much time you leave it in the refrigerator, it will never firm up.

Italian Panna Cotta Recipe - Fresh Vanilla

Fresh Vanilla Is Best

Italian Panna Cotta Recipe Toppings

This is where there can be some variability while still being traditional. My preference is a coulis made from frutti di bosco. This is a sweet berry-filled sauce that includes: blackberries, raspberries, red currants and even blueberries (although less often). Traditional toppings here in Rome also include a caramel sauce and a chocolate sauce. I tried an espresso and chocolate sauce, but it came out a bit grainy and it left me unsatisfied.

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Italian Panna Cotta Recipe

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Servings: 6

Italian Panna Cotta Ingredients

  • 1 pint (16 oz or 500 ml) of Heavy Cream
  • 1 Vanilla Bean Pod
  • 3 ounces (80 g) of granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 ounce (8 g) of Gelatin Sheets

Panna Cotta Cooking Instructions

  1. Add the gelatin to cold water and allow it to bloom for 15 minutes.
  2. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a knife.
  3. Add the cream, sugar, vanilla bean seeds and the pod itself to a pan and bring to a boil.
  4. Continue to stir the cream mixture to ensure it doesn’t scald or burn. When it is lightly boiling and the sugar has dissolved completely, pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and return it to the pan off the heat.
  5. Remove the gelatin from the water and squeeze any water out of it. Add it to the cream mixture and stir to dissolve the gelatin.
  6. When the gelatin has dissolved, pour the mixture into the forms you chose. I used a silicone muffin pan, but any tapered cup will work.
  7. Chill the cups in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  8. Remove the panna cotta from the form, put on a plate and pour your favorite topping all over it.

Previous Recipes That Might Interest You

If you enjoyed this Italian Panna Cotta recipe or like traditional Italian dishes, I think you have found your home here. These are some of my previous recipes and blog posts that you might want to check out:

italian panna cotta recipe - Vanilla Seeds

Vanilla Seeds Floating To The Top

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