Panna Cotta Recipe

panna cotta recipe

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:

  • This is a make-ahead dessert (needs to sit, set, and cool)
  • You don't HAVE to use a panna cotta mold - (it does give it that *distinct* look) - but you can use any other mold OR even a wine glass or martini glass
  • has a lot of leeway in sauce options ( or you can even infuse with zest or herbs!)
  • OR it can be served naked with no sauces or no fruit compote
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    See the FAQs section below - for this recipe.

    Panna Cotta Recipe

    YIELD: 8 servings


    ** 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

    Do I HAVE to use cream?

    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.

    If I swap out some Half & Half - how much?

    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.

    How long will this keep?

    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.

    How do I "UN"mold?

    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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