Panna cotta means “cooked cream”. The classic Italian dessert now enjoyed everywhere was created in the Piedmonte region in the northwest corner of Italia.
Cows have a good life in Piemonte. They graze in beautiful Alpine pastures. It’s no wonder that their milk produces fantastic butter, cream and cheese and is the inspiration for this delicate flan-like delight.
Panna cotta is simple and sumptuous. You can eat it alone or with berries, caramel sauce or amerena cherries. I like to add strawberries macerated with a sprinkle of sugar and a little balsamic vinegar.
Panna cotta scented with vanilla and lemon melts in your mouth. The balsamic strawberries mute the sweetness and add texture to each bite.
Panna cotta takes about 5 minutes to cook. Pour the cooked cream into ramekins and chill for a couple of hours to set. That’s it. No more waiting to find it on a restaurant menu. Now you can eat panna cotta whenever you want some.
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4½ teaspoons)
- 3 tablespoons water
- .25 ounce packet gelatin
- 2 strips lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons walnut, almond or flavorless vegetable oil
- Lightly brush the ramekins with the oil. Put them in the refrigerator to cool.
- Put the water in a bowl.
- Add the gelatin. Set aside until the gelatin has softened.
- Put the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
- Heat the cream mixture to a simmer. Take off the heat as soon as small bubbles begin to form at the rim of the pot. Do not boil the cream. Remove from heat and pick out the lemon zest.
- Mix 1 cup of the mixture into the gelatin to dissolve the gelatin.
- Pour the gelatin mixture back into the pot and mix well. Set aside to cool.
- Pour the panna cotta into the ramekins and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until fully set.
- To serve, run a small knife around the edge of the ramekin. Upend the ramekin on a plate, shake gently to loosen the panna cotta and carefully lift off the ramekin.
- Serve panna cotta chilled by itself or with amerena cherries, fresh berries or strawberries macerated with sugar and a touch of balsamic vinegar.