The season for entertaining is upon us. Coming up with new dessert ideas that are unique and easy can be more exhausting than the party itself. Fortunately, Chef Delgado is here to help and her solution is Panna Cotta.
Panna Cotta is an italian cream dessert. In fact, Panna Cotta means “cooked cream” in Italian. With the addition of sugar and gelatin, this chilled dessert is not only delicious but incredibly easy to make and can be garnished with nearly everything but the kitchen sink. The basic Panna Cotta recipe is as follows:
Panna Cotta (4 servings)
2c Heavy Cream
1/4c Granulated sugar
1 Vanilla bean (or 1tsp vanilla extract)
1 Packet gelatin
3tbsp Cold water
Sprinkle the gelatin over 3 tablespoons of cold water and allow to set. Heat cream and sugar over the stove or in the microwave until the sugar has dissolved. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream mixture, add the bean to the cream as well and allow to steep for at least 15 minutes. Add the solid gelatin to the cream mixture and stir until dissolved. Pour cream mixture into lightly greased molds, small tart pans, espresso cups, or whatever you choose. Allow to chill in refrigerator for approximately 3 hours before garnishing and serving.
Once you have prepared your Panna Cotta there are endless ways to serve it. For example, pour your Panna Cotta into a tart mold and chill until set. Make a spiced red wine reduction by pouring 1 cup of your favorite sweet red wine into a small sauce pan, and adding 1 cinnamon stick and a few cloves. Reduce the wine down to 1/2 cup and chill in refrigerator until cool. Unmold your Panna Cotta onto a nice dessert plate, and pour a small amount of the spiced red wine around the Panna Cotta and garnish. Or you can keep it simple by unmolding your Panna Cotta onto a plate, drizzle with a little chocolate sauce, and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies.
No tart pans? No problem. Pour your Panna Cotta into a champagne flute before chilling. Once it’s chilled you can top it with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, cranberry or raspberry coulis (puree’d and strained fruit sauce), or even another flavored gelatin. Just be sure to chill your Panna Cotta completely before pouring another warm gelatin mixture over it. Top your dessert with whipped cream and a mint leaf for a great presentation.
Chef Delgado also suggests infusing your Panna Cotta with other herbs or spices instead of or in addition to vanilla. Try using mint leaves (or a little peppermint extract) for a winter fresh flavor. Remove your mint leaves before pouring the Panna Cotta into the molds. In the spring, Chef Delgado likes to infuse her Panna Cotta with a little lavender and then drizzle it with honey for a fragrant and delicious dessert.
Obviously, the service options for Panna Cotta truly are endless. Spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your guests as they marvel over this amazing dessert.
If you have service suggestions for Panna Cotta, please share them below. Everyone would love to hear them!