One of the easiest and most delicious desserts you can make any time of the year, but especially now with Valentine’s Day right around the corner is Panna Cotta. I have always loved this dessert, and once I made it, I could not believe how simple it was. The best part is, it is a no bake dessert, so you do not have to use your oven! Since it sets in the refrigerator, you can keep it there until you need it, so there is nothing to stress about. I have a video HERE where I show you exactly how I make this delicious Italian dessert which literally translates to cooked cream, and that is exactly what it is. I am happy to finally share my vanilla bean panna cotta recipe with you, and because my favourite way to eat this is with my homemade berry sauce on top, I also show you how to make that as well, which also looks very festive! So here is my Panna Cotta with Berry Sauce recipe:
Panna Cotta Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Water
1 Envelope Unflavoured Gelatine (less than 1tbsp)
1 + 3/4 Cups Heavy Cream (35%)
1 Cup Half and Half Cream (10%)
1/3 Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Vanilla Bean Paste (*can sub for whole vanilla bean pod or extract)
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
Panna Cotta Instructions:
Heat water (can use microwave for 30 seconds). Dissolve gelatine in hot/warm water and stir for 1 minute. Set aside until ready to use.
In a sauce pan, add heavy cream, half and half, and sugar. Stir on medium until a soft simmer forms (you do not want to boil the cream). Once this happens, add the gelatine/ water mix and stir on medium for 1 more minute.
Remove cream from heat and add the vanilla/extract, stir to incorporate.
Next place the cream mixture into separate bowls, glasses, or ramekins. Depending on the size of the bowls/glasses you can make about 4 to 6 servings. You will want to fill them about 3/4 of the way up, to leave room for the topping.
Let mixture cool before covering with plastic wrap and placing in the fridge for at least 4 hours or preferably over night.
*In the mean time you can work on the berry sauce. This is optional, but I love the way the tart, slightly sweet berries complement the sweet panna cotta. You can also use caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, or simply top with fresh berries. The choice is yours!
Berry Sauce Ingredients:
3 to 4 Cups Berries *I used half strawberries, half raspberries
1/4 or 1/3 Cups Sugar (depending on your taste)
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Berry Sauce Instructions:
Wash the berries. Cut the strawberries in 1/4, and add them, and the raspberries (or your berry of choice) to a sauce pot.
Add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice (without seeds) to the pot, as well as the sugar. I tend to use 1/4 of a cup for 3 cups of berries, or 1/3 of a cup for 4 cups of berries, but you can add more or less depending on your taste. I prefer for the berry sauce to not be too sweet.
Place the pot on medium, and continuously stir the berries for about 5 minutes until they release juice, soften, and even burst.
Next, I like to further puree the berries by using an immersion blender, right in the pot that I cooked them in. You can also use a blender or food processor if you do not have a blender. If you don’t have either you can crush down the berries with a potato masher, or cook the berries for a few minutes longer. We want a smooth sauce, not overly chunky.
Next you will need to strain the berries though a strainer to remove the excess seeds and lumps of fruit. I find raspberries have many seeds, so depending on the berry you may or may not want to strain this mix. It’s fine to have a few small seeds in this sauce, but I find that straining removes most of the large seeds that are not pleasant to eat, and also creates a smooth sauce. Press the fruit through to be sure you get the most sauce possible. You will likely have left over sauce so feel free to save this in the fridge for up to 1 week. This sauce is great on top of anything, even breakfast the next day 😉
*The lemon as well as seeds are natural thickeners and should create a sauce that is thick enough, but spending the 4 hours or over night in the fridge will also help this. If you prefer a thicker sauce you can add a little cornstarch to the sauce, or cook down the berries a little longer before straining.
Panna Cotta Presentation:
After the 4 hours or over night, the panna cotta is ready! You will notice that it is jiggly yet firm, and this is what we want. Once it is ready you can top this with a few spoons of the berry sauce we made, as well as fresh berries on top if you would like. It depends on the size of the portions you made, but you can see my video HERE for reference on how much sauce I put on each portion. I made these in various glasses to also give you an idea on what you can use to set the panna cotta in.
I hope you enjoyed this impressive Italian dessert. It is very delicious and as you can see surprisingly easy to make! My pet peeve is panna cotta that is too hard and gelatinous. This panna cotta almost melts in your mouth it is so tasty. I flavoured this with vanilla because I find that is the most delicious, but feel free to experiment with lemon zest or other flavours. You really can’t go wrong! It is as easy as it is versatile.
Happy Valentine’s Day if you are celebrating, or else enjoy this beautiful dessert that can be eaten year round!
Love: Lisa (@ladolcelisa)