Panna Cotta is one of the easiest desserts you’ll ever make. And this time of year, we need easy desserts we can count on.
I see Panna Cotta all over Italy when I visit. Its name means cooked cream, and it’s essentially a chilled pudding that’s thickened with gelatin, and molded. It’s cream base readily marries with a wide variety of flavors, and is often accompanied by a sauce. Best of all, it comes together in the amount of time it takes to bring the cream to a low simmer, but a little planning is needed as you need to allow for enough time for it to firm up in the refrigerator. It took mine just a little over 2 hours.
This recipe is reprinted from Nielsen-Massey with their permission, and it’s a keeper. This version is fairly thick and lusciously rich, and is ideal for the holidays with Nielsen-Massey’s vanilla, peppermint, and coffee extracts. If you want to lighten it up a bit, substitute half of the whipping cream for whole milk. Easy peasy. If you don’t want it quite so thick, just use less gelatin. It’s all up to you.
Although the Nielsen-Massey recipe calls for bringing the cream to a low boil, I advise removing it from the heat as soon as it steams quite a bit, and you see the first bubbles around the edge of the pot.
Make sure the gelatin is completely dissolved before pouring it into the glasses or molds. I poured mine into a large measuring cup through a small strainer, and then poured the liquid into the molds from the measuring cup.
If you want to turn the Panna Cotta from the molds onto serving plates, apply a very light coating of oil to the mold using a paper towel.
I highly recommend this combination of extracts – it’s perfect for the holidays. And you can never go wrong using Nielsen-Massy. If you can’t find them in your store, click on the photos (affiliate link):
- ⅓ cup cold water
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups whipping cream
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1½ teaspoons instant coffee
- 1½ teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Organic Fairtrade Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Peppermint Extract
- ½ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Coffee Extract
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (garnish)
- Place 8 mini martini glasses or dessert molds on a small rimmed sheet pan; set aside. In a small glass measuring cup, add water. Sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand for 5 minutes to soften.
- To a medium saucepan, add whipping cream, sugar, coffee, vanilla, peppermint and coffee extracts; stir to combine. Place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and the cream just begins to gently boil.
- Reduce heat; add softened gelatin, stirring constantly until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. Equally fill glasses with mixture, about ¼ cup each. Chill in refrigerator until firm, about 2-3 hours. Before serving, dust with cocoa powder.