A panna cotta recipe is the "Italian" creme brulee, or the Spanish "flan". Each one of these are custards - yes, but the difference?
A panna cotta recipe has NO EGGS. It uses cooked cream as it's base. Serious real cream. Yeah, you *can* use a bit Half & Half if you HAVE to. (See the FAQ section below) But it's a cream based dessert.
This can be a stand alone dessert or it can be paired up with fruit or a sauce poured over it like my orange glaze or a strawberry compote like my marsala strawberries - see fresh strawberry desserts page.
Two things to know:
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See the FAQs section below - for this recipe.
** 4 cups of HEAVY cream (option - can use some Half & Half)
* * 1/2 of sugar
** Vanilla bean (can swap out with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
** 2 packets of gelatin
** 6 tablespoons of cold water
** Combine the cream and sugar in a sauce pan
** Heat until the sugar is dissolved (yes, you can microwave). You are just looking for a "dissolve"
** Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean
** Add BOTH the seeds and the pod to the cream mixture
** Put the lid on the pot - pull it off the burner and walk away
** Stay away for 30 minutes (you are letting the bean and seeds infuse)
** After 30 minutes pitch the bean and seeds (throw away)
** Rewarm the creamy vanilla mixture (slowly)
** Lightly *grease* the custard cups (NO - olive oil or flavored oils)
** Sprinkle the gelatin over the 6 tablespoons of cold water. Make sure the bowl is big enough because you will be adding the cream mixture to THIS bowl.
** Let the gelatin water mixture sit about 10 minutes
** Pour the RE-warmed cream mixture OVER the gelatin mixture
** Stir until everything is combined.
** Pour into your custard cups (or whatever you will be using - ramekin, panna cotta mold, wine glass, martini glass..)
** Let them stand at least (IN THE FRIDGE)
** Unmold and serve
Yes - at least a good portion needs to be cream. That's the whole deal with a panna cotta recipe - it's cream based. So you do want to focus on the main ingredient.
I've never used Half & Half - but I have read from several cooks (whom I trust) that you can swap out about 50% of the amount. Again, I've not done it myself.
About 2 days. Which makes it GREAT for a dinner party. It's one less prep item on the "day of" - which is great when you have a real life where you can't spend all day in the kitchen.
You can run a knife around the edge. Make sure you "grease" the molds with an non flavored oil. Too, if this is a pain or a stress point, just put them in really cool looking martini glasses or wine glasses and serve. Bottom line a panna cotta recipe is one of those EASY Italian dessert recipes, don't make it hard on yourself stressing out over a mold.
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