Easy Vanilla Panna Cotta Recipe

This easy panna cotta recipe makes a delicious, creamy, elegant Italian dessert that requires only a few ingredients.

Creamy Vanilla Panna Cotta


With its silky texture and delicate flavor, panna cotta is a crowd-pleaser that can be enjoyed any time of the year, or just as an indulgent dessert on a lazy weekend.

This decadent dessert consists of a sweetened cream mixture that is thickened with gelatin and then chilled until set.

The texture of panna cotta is smooth and creamy, with a delicate flavor that can be enhanced with a variety of toppings including fresh fruit, caramel, or chocolate sauce.

Panna cotta is often served in individual portions and is usually garnished with fresh berries, mint leaves, or a drizzle of honey.

Ingredients for Panna Cotta

  • Heavy cream
  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract or vanilla bean
  • Gelatin powder or sheets
  • Salt (optional)
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Raspberry Sauce


How to make classic vanilla panna cotta

To start, you’ll need to gather your ingredients. For this recipe, you’ll need heavy cream, whole milk, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, powdered gelatin, and a pinch of salt.

You’ll also need ramekins or dessert glasses to set the Panna Cotta in.

To make the Panna Cotta, begin by pouring the heavy cream, whole milk, sugar, and salt into a medium saucepan.

Use a whisk to combine the ingredients together, and heat the mixture over medium-low heat until it’s hot but not boiling.

You’ll want to stir the mixture occasionally to prevent it from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Once the mixture is hot and the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. This will add a delicate, sweet flavor to the Panna Cotta.

Next, you’ll need to add the powdered gelatin to the mixture. Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the cream mixture and whisk it in until the gelatin has completely dissolved.

This will help the Panna Cotta set into a smooth, creamy texture.

Now it’s time to divide the mixture evenly among your ramekins or dessert glasses. You’ll want to be careful not to overfill the glasses, as the Panna Cotta will expand slightly as it sets.

Once you’ve filled each glass, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 2 hours, or until the Panna Cotta is firm.

When you’re ready to serve the Panna Cotta, remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften slightly.

Then, run a knife around the edges of each glass and gently invert the Panna Cotta onto serving plates. Top with your favorite toppings, such as fresh berries, fruit coulis, or caramel sauce.

Classic Vanilla Panna Cotta


What to serve with Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is a versatile dessert that can be served with a variety of toppings or accompaniments to enhance its flavor and presentation. Some popular options include:

Fresh fruit: Top your panna cotta with fresh berries, sliced mango, or a combination of fruits for a burst of flavor and color.

Fruit coulis or sauce: Drizzle a fruity sauce such as raspberry, blueberry, or strawberry coulis over your panna cotta for an extra pop of flavor.

Caramel or chocolate sauce: A drizzle of caramel or chocolate sauce over your panna cotta can add a rich and indulgent touch to this already decadent dessert.

Biscuits or cookies: Serve panna cotta with a side of shortbread biscuits, amaretti cookies, or biscotti for some texture and crunch.

Nuts or toasted coconut: Top your panna cotta with chopped toasted nuts, such as pistachios or almonds, or some toasted coconut flakes for a delicious and crunchy contrast.

No-Bake Vanilla Panna Cotta


Occasions to serve Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is the kind of dessert that can be served almost anytime, from casual dinners to formal events, depending on what you pair it with.

Here are some occasions where panna cotta would be a perfect dessert option:

Dinner parties: Panna cotta is an elegant and impressive dessert that makes it perfect for serving at dinner parties.

It can be made ahead of time and customized with a variety of toppings or flavors to suit different tastes.

Holiday gatherings: Panna cotta is a festive dessert that can be easily adapted to suit different holidays.

For example, you can top it with cranberry sauce or crushed candy canes for Christmas or fresh berries for a summery Fourth of July dessert.

Weddings: Panna cotta is a popular dessert option for weddings, as it can be made in advance and easily customized to match the wedding theme or color scheme.

Brunch: Panna cotta can be a delicious addition to a brunch menu, especially if served with fresh fruit and a crunchy topping.

Romantic dinners: Panna cotta’s silky texture and delicate flavor make it a perfect dessert option for a romantic dinner for two.

Top it with strawberries and a drizzle of chocolate sauce for an extra touch of romance.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta


How to store Panna Cotta

Panna cotta can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Here are some tips on how to store panna cotta:

Cover the panna cotta with plastic wrap or an airtight lid before storing it in the refrigerator to prevent it from drying out or absorbing other flavors.

Store the panna cotta in the coldest part of the refrigerator to ensure that it stays chilled.

If you are storing the panna cotta with a sauce or topping, keep them separately in a separate container until ready to serve.

Avoid freezing panna cotta, as the texture may become grainy and unappetizing.

If you are making panna cotta in advance, it’s best to add the toppings just before serving to ensure that they remain fresh and don’t make the panna cotta soggy.

Vanilla Panna Cotta


Vanilla Panna Cotta FAQs

Can I make Panna Cotta without gelatin?

Gelatin is a crucial ingredient in Panna Cotta, as it helps it set into a creamy texture. However, you can use other thickeners such as agar agar or cornstarch as a substitute for gelatin.

Can I make Panna Cotta in advance?

Yes, Panna Cotta can be made a day or two in advance and stored in the refrigerator. It’s important to cover the Panna Cotta with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on top.

Can I freeze Panna Cotta?

Panna Cotta is not ideal for freezing, as it can become grainy and lose its creamy texture. It’s best to serve Panna Cotta fresh or store it in the refrigerator for a few days.

How can I prevent the Panna Cotta from sticking to the ramekins or glasses?

To prevent sticking, lightly coat the ramekins or glasses with vegetable oil or cooking spray before pouring in the mixture. This will make it easier to remove the Panna Cotta from the dish.

Can I make Panna Cotta vegan?

Yes, you can make a vegan version of Panna Cotta by using plant-based milk and a vegan-friendly thickener such as agar agar.

How can I make sure the Panna Cotta sets properly?

It’s important to make sure that the gelatin is completely dissolved before pouring it into the ramekins or glasses. Also, be sure to refrigerate the Panna Cotta for at least 2 hours, or until it’s firm, before serving.

Panna Cotta Recipe

This easy panna cotta recipe makes a delicious, creamy, elegant Italian dessert that requires only a few ingredients.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: vanilla panna cotta

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Pour the heavy cream, whole milk, sugar, and salt into a medium saucepan. Whisk the mixture together and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot but not boiling.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.
  • Sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the surface of the cream mixture and whisk until the gelatin has completely dissolved.
  • Divide the mixture evenly among 6-8 ramekins or dessert glasses, depending on the size you want.
  • Allow the Panna Cotta to cool to room temperature, then cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until firm.
  • When ready to serve, remove the Panna Cotta from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to soften slightly. Then, run a knife around the edges of the ramekins and gently invert the Panna Cotta onto serving plates.
  • Serve with your choice of toppings, such as fresh berries, fruit coulis, or caramel sauce.

I hope you enjoy making and savoring this delicious panna cotta recipe. With its creamy texture and delicate flavor, it’s sure to impress your guests or satisfy your dessert cravings. 

Don’t hesitate to experiment with different flavors and toppings to create your own unique variations. And remember, always store panna cotta properly in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and delicious for days to come.



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