Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Raspberry Sauce

My love affair with Panna Cotta, the delicious Italian pudding dessert, began when Will and I were still students. We discovered Trader Joe's Peach and Blueberry Panna Cotta and fell in love with the sweet creamy goodness. They came frozen, two puddings per package, for a cool $4. It became our easy go-to dessert after homemade dinners together.

Then there was a period of time when we took a hiatus from panna cottas. I have no idea why now because they are so terribly delicious, but when I was recently craving them again, we could never find them at Trader Joe's anymore! I did a little research and to my dismay, found that they have been discontinued!

So for this past Valentine's day, I planned to make a special dinner for Will. I pan-fried dungeness crab cakes, baked off roasted red peppers stuffed with lemon quinoa, and found a recipe for vanilla panna cotta. I was surprised at how easy it was to actually make! There are actually dozens of recipes out there for panna cotta and I found that the only real difference between them was the varying ratios of milk to heavy whipping cream. Too much whipping cream and the fat content and richness will overtake the dessert and become too heavy, but too much plain milk and the panna cotta would loose creaminess.

In the end, I decided to settle on 1 cup nonfat milk and 2 cups heavy whipping cream. I made everything the night before, it only took about 20 minutes, and poured the mixture in ramekins to set in the fridge overnight. The next evening I set out some frozen raspberries to defrost at room temperature while we enjoyed the rest of our dinner and then I mixed in a spoonful of sugar with the defrosted raspberry and the juices and topped off each panna cotta with a big spoonful, easy!

Adapted from version
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Set Time: overnight

  • 1 cup skim milk 
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream 
  • 1 envelope (0.25 ounce) of powder unflavored gelatin 
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  1. Pour the skim milk in a small bowl and dissolve the packet of gelatin in the milk. Stir and set aside.
  2. Heat the heavy whipping cream with the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat stirring occasionally  When the mixture begins to boil pour the gelatin and milk mixture into the pan and reduce the heat slightly. 
  3. Stir the mixture constant for one minute and then remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract. 
  4. Pour or spoon the mixture into individual ramekins. Cover the top with plastic wrap so that it touches the surface of the liquid. This will prevent a "skin" of milk-fat from forming. 
  5. Refrigerate overnight
  6. Defrost frozen raspberries at room temperature for half an hour or a few hours in the fridge. 
  7. Mix raspberries and liquid with sugar to taste and spoon over the top of the panna cottas. 

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