We do a lot of entertaining, particularly when we are here in Umbria, and when planning my menus which tend to be multi-course events, I always like to include something light and sweet for dessert. Two of my favorite desserts to serve when entertaining are Panna Cotta and Tiramisu since both can be completed ahead of time and everyone seems to love them.
Panna Cotta translates as “cooked cream,” although you can use milk, yogurt, and even buttermilk to create a Panna Cotta. The heated cream is sweetened with sugar, mixed with gelatin, then allowed to set. You can flavor your Panna Cotta with just about anything, and your choices are only as limited as your imagination. Check out some of my other Panna Cotta ideas below!
Here in Italy, folks use gelatin sheets, and I have learned to prefer using them as well and feel they keep the Panna Cotta a little looser. For me, a great Panna Cotta has a subtle sweetness and flavor, and retains a little wobble when lightly shaken. To substitute powdered gelatin for gelatin sheets, it is said that 3 gelatin sheets equals 1 tablespoon of powdered gelatin, or 1 (0.25oz) envelope of granulated gelatin. Gelatin sheets do come in different strengths however, so you may have to experiment a bit to get the right substitution.
You can use ramekins to make your Panna Cotta, and then un-mold them onto plates before serving, but I prefer using small 4 ounce clear glasses which always look really pretty when you layer flavors like I did in this version. I simply kept some of the prepared Panna Cotta liquid aside and pureed it with fresh raspberries until light and foamy and once the lavender Panna Cotta had partially set, poured it on top.
We recently harvested all of the lavender plants growing throughout our property, so I decided to use lavender as my flavoring, and paired that with some fresh raspberries I had on hand. The Panna Cotta was a hit with everyone, and created the perfect ending to our meal.
Some Other Panna Cotta Recipes on IFF
Deborah Mele 2013
- 2 Cups Heavy Cream
- 2 Cups Milk
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Kitchen Grade Lavender Buds
- 4 Gelatin Sheets
- 1 Pint Fresh Raspberries
- Heat the cream, milk, sugar, and lavender until steaming, then reduce the heat to very low and let steep 10 minutes.
- Strain the milk mixture and return to the pot and keep warm.
- Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for 5 minutes, squeeze out the water and add to the pot.
- Stir until the gelatin has dissolved.
- Place two raspberries in each ramekin or glass.
- Pour the panna cotta into 6 ramekins or small glasses, reserving 1/2 cup, and refrigerate.
- Place the reserved liquid in a bowl with 6 raspberries and using a hand blender puree until light and frothy, then set aside at room temperature.
- After about 90 minutes, or once the refrigerated panna cotta has developed a skin on top, pour a little of the raspberry foam on top of each.
- Return to the refrigerator and leave until set.
- Serve, garnished with a couple of fresh raspberries on top.