Sunday, July 24, 2011

Panna Cotta Two Ways

Did you know that I like dessert?

Wednesday night, I made a small blueberry clafouti for one.  The heat wave was beginning and I chose to bake. My logic? Flawed. The clafouti? Good.

Thursday night, E, L, and I shared three desserts at Sibling Rivalry: a chocolate tart, blueberry bread pudding, and angel food cake with strawberry compote.

And Saturday? I texted M: “I want to make a small dessert but I don’t know what.”

A minute later, I had the answer: panna cotta. M always comes through.

I adapted David Lebovitz’s Perfect Panna Cotta recipe. Panna cotta is meant to be easy, and it is.

But there’s a trick. Oh yes. There’s a trick to the five minute five ingredient recipe.

The mixture of cream and sugar must be warm. It must. You must take it off the stovetop, stir in the vanilla, and pour it over the gelatin immediately. Otherwise, there won’t be enough heat to melt the gelatin. And when the gelatin doesn’t melt, you’ll have to ditch the whole batch and go out in the 100-degree weather to buy more cream. And you don’t want to do that. No, you do not. You want to get it right the first time.

But, if you do wind up at the grocery store, you better find some really fantastic, ripe summer fruit. I picked out plums and $9 worth of cherries.

Oh. I should tell you. There’s a really hard part to the recipe. Waiting for the pannacotta to firm up in the fridge. It’s so hard. I’m not a patient person. Especially when dessert is almost ready.

I love dessert. 

I think you're more patient than I am. Maybe you could teach me to be patient.

Because the panna cotta is worth the wait. So here it is, two ways.

Summertime Panna Cotta with Sliced Cherries

1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
1 1/2 tablespoon cold water
1 cup de-stemmed, pitted, and sliced cherries

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a bowl. Be sure to sprinkle it evenly to avoid any clumps. Let it sit for five minutes. 

While the gelatin is dissolving, heat the heavy cream and the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved (1-2 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. 

Pour the warm cream mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. 

Divide the cherries between two small custard bowls. Divide the panna cotta and pour it over the cherries. Refrigerate for two to three hours until the panna cotta is firm to the touch and is jiggly. 

Serves two. 

Panna Cotta Topped with Sliced Plums and Dark Chocolate Glaze

Additional ingredients needed:
1 ripe plum
3 ounces dark chocolate
4 teaspoons heavy cream

Prepare the panna cotta as described above, omitting the cherries. Refrigerate the panna cotta for two to three hours until it is firm to the touch. 

Slice the plum thinly and arrange 1/2 over each bowl of panna cotta. 

Melt the dark chocolate in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to prevent it from burning. Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream. 

Drizzle the chocolate glaze over each bowl. Serves two. 


  1. Oh my dear, these are too divine! I can just taste the luscious cherries, and the plum and chocolate--well, words fail me. Tonite we went for tapas--an amazing one with egg, manchego cream and truffle--and finished with a catalan creme caramel, with the cruncy caramelized crust on top. But the panna cotta, well, that's what I'll dream about tonite.

  2. Thanks! Panna cotta is so easy... it was a great suggestion!

    I'd like to try making a buttermilk panna cotta next. The tanginess would be nice.