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A no-fuss fancy dessert that would be perfect for a dinner party! Your guests will think you are quite the pastry chef when you present them with this surprisingly easy dessert!
Ok I don’t know about you but turning the oven on right now is requiring a huge feat of strength. It’s absolutely beautiful weather here in Boston, that’s really meant more for hitting the beaches not cranking up the oven temperature. In my ridiculously small apartment and even smaller kitchen (oh did I mention no A.C?) turning my oven on means pretty much I’m going to need another shower as soon as possible. Of course that means I go without dessert right? Ha, my thighs wish.
Nope. I make panna cotta. Ok, yes I do need to turn the burners on for a hot (and I mean hot) five minutes. But that’s it. Panna cotta if you have never made or heard of is a creamy Italian dessert that can be flavored any way you like pretty much and topped however you want. This cinch of a dessert comes together quickly. And impressively.
A couple things to know if this is your first time making panna cotta…
1. You will be working with gelatin. I used powdered gelatin. It’s easy to use and is what causes this dessert to set up in the fridge. All you simply need to do is sprinkle your gelatin over cold water in a medium bowl (the rest of your panna cotta mixture will be added later, so be sure to pick a big enough bowl. I made that mistake the first time, too.) Then just let it hang out for 5-10 minutes. That’s it. Ready to go.
2. Ok, so while the gelatin is getting happy heat your cream and sugar in a saucepan on the stove. Or better yet, the microwave. I mean it is close to 90 degrees outside right now. No one would judge you. After the sugar has dissolved take it off the heat and add in your vanilla extract (or vanilla bean if you are feeling extra fancy but that requires steeping aka standing over a hot burner even longer, no thank you.). Just be sure to add your extract OFF the heat, otherwise it may just burn off all that yummy vanilla flavor.
3. Ok the hard part. Pour the cream mixture into the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Ok, so not hard at all actually. Here is my little trick if I’m not sure…I simply dip my fingers in and rub them together to feel for any graininess. And pour into small coffee mugs, ramekins, wine glasses, martinis…skys the limit. Just pick something that will be pretty to serve in the end. If you want to be able to unmold your panna cotta in the end and present on a plate, then make sure to lightly oil the dish you choose to pour it in to set up. But seriously I was all for skipping that step and presenting in my wine goblets instead. That’s it. The fridge will do the rest of the hard work for you. This does take a while in the fridge, but that means a dessert gets ready while you have to do pretty much, well…nothing. Perfect.
Now you can eat the panna cotta it the way that it is, but I personally feel that it needs something to finish it off. I decided to whip up a quick mixed berry compote. (Yes you need to turn the burners on again, but for another 5 minutes again tops). Or you could top with fresh fruit, or maybe a dollop of homemade nutella?
This is definitely an impressive dessert if you have company coming over. Or you could do what I did is quick whip up a batch and have dessert ready for you All. Week. Long. Forget company, go make some for yourself. Now.
If you try this recipe, let me know by leaving a comment either here, on instagram, or twitter, just use #bostongirlbakes and take a photo as well! I’d love to see! Thanks for stopping by everyone!
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Compote
For the panna cotta
- 2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoons of vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 1 packets powdered gelatin about 2 1/4 teaspoons
- 3 tablespoons cold water
For the berry compote
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 cups mixed berries fresh or frozen
- 1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
- 2. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.(If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture before continuing.)
- 3. If you plan on unmolding the panna cotta later, then lightly oil eight custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil otherwise you can skip this step.
- 4. Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
- 5. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups or wine goblets, then chill them until firm, which will take at least two hours (could take up to 4 hours depending on the temperature of your refrigerator).
- 6. To make the compote: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan or skillet over moderate heat. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice. Add the berries and tossing gently (to prevent them from completely breaking up) for about 2 to 3 minutes (until berries are warm and juices begin to release).
- 7. When ready to serve the panna cotta, spoon the compote over. If you plan on unmolding, run a sharp knife around the edge of each panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and top with the mixed berry compote.
- If you’re pressed for time, pour the Panna Cotta mixture into wine goblets so you can serve them in the glasses, without unmolding.
- 6. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and garnish as desired.