Panna Cotta is one of the easiest desserts to make, and perfect for the busy holidays. If you're anything like me, you like to have people over during the holidays, but you need easy desserts you can count on. Bonus points if they can be made ahead.
Panna Cotta means cooked cream, and is essentially a chilled pudding or mousse thickened with gelatin, and molded. In its natural form, it's a little bland. Therefore, it's often infused with a wide variety of flavors, and dressed with a sauce. Best of all, Panna Cotta is easy, quick, and chills out in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to set up. This makes it a perfect make-ahead dessert.
I created this recipe for Nielsen-Massey, and is reprinted with their permission. My version is lusciously rich, and is ideal for the holidays with Nielsen-Massey's vanilla, peppermint, and coffee extracts. To lighten it up a bit, just substitute half of the whipping cream for whole milk. Easy-peasy. And if you don't want it quite so thick, just use less gelatin. It's all up to you.
- Some recipes call for bringing the cream to a low boil, however I advise removing it from the heat as soon as you see the first bubbles form around the edge of the pot.
- Completely dissolve the gelatin before pouring it into the glasses or molds. To further ensure a consistent, smooth texture, pour the liquide through a small strainer, before pouring it into the molds.
- Serve Panna Cotta in the mold, or flip it out onto serving plates. For the latter, apply a very light coating of oil to the mold using a paper towel before filling it with the liquid.
- I highly recommend this combination of extracts for the holidays. And be sure to look for Nielsen-Massy's products for the best quality. If you can't find them in your store, click on the photos to order them (affiliate link):
Peppermint Mocha Panna Cotta
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Organic Fairtrade Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Peppermint Extract
- 1/2 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, whisk together the whipping cream, sugar, coffee, vanilla, peppermint and coffee extracts. Place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and the cream just begins to gently boil.
- Turn off the heat and add softened gelatin, stirring constantly until gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour the liquid through a strainer into the molds or glasses, dividing the mixture between them. Chill in refrigerator until firm, about 2-3 hours. Before serving, dust with cocoa powder.
Disclosure: Nielsen-Massey provided a bottle of the peppermint extract for me to try, and provided this recipe for the holidays. All opinions are my own.