Raspberry Pana Cotta or Panacotta

  • Serves: Serves 6
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This is my favorite recipe for Panna Cotta, and it is adapted from Chef Nancy Silverton. She is the founder of Campanile Restaurant and the La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles. Both opened in 1989 and have been the recipients of numerous awards. Chef Silverton is well known for her Panna Cotta, which is one of my favorite desserts. I grew up in Los Angeles, and whenever I travel West, I make sure I stop in her bakery where savor every bite!

It is a traditional Piemontese recipe -- the name means "cooked cream" in Italian. There are numerous variations on this wonderful light and delicious recipe, but I find that this recipe turns out especially creamy and smooth, as well as flavorful. Panna Cotta is typically made by boiling together milk or buttermilk, cream and sugar, and then mixing it with gelatin and flavoring it, often with vanilla. It is traditionally served with a berry colics, such as raspberries or strawberries, but can be served alone. I like to serve this recipe with Chef Silverton's Raspberry Sauce, below, and Gluten-Free Amaretti Cookies. This recipe is also gluten-free (gluten free).

The other day, my husband and I ate at a well-known restaurant in New York City. Of course, I ordered Panna Cotta for dessert. It was layered and quite beautiful. There was a thin top layer (which would have been the bottom when made) was Panna Cotta subtly flavored with mint. I asked the Chef who said that he infused the cream with fresh mint. He poured a thin layer of Panna Cotta in the ramekin, let it set, in the refrigerator and then poured a layer of vanilla flavored Panna Cotta on top, and refrigerated it again. It was quite delicious and unique!


 Instead of using 1 vanilla bean in the Panna Cotta, you can use 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. In Step 4. Strain the cream through a fine-mesh strainer, THEN, STIR IN THE VANILLA EXTRACT.....Press a piece of plastic wrap on the milk/cream's surface so a milky film won't form, and set aside.

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped 

2 tablespoons cold water
1 3/4 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin

2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Kirsch or any liqueur
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Fresh strawberries
1 recipe Gluten-Free Amaretti Cookies, optional 

1. Whisk together the cream, milk, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a heavy bottomed medium-size saucepan. Add the vanilla seeds and scraped vanilla bean pod. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Watch closely so it doesn't boil over. Immediately remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5 - 10 minutes; this allows the milk to be infused with the flavor of the vanilla.

2. Meanwhile, place the water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and stir. Set aside until the gelatin is softened, 5 minutes.

3. When the gelatin has softened, immediately whisk it, and 1 tablespoon sugar into the hot cream/milk mixture, until dissolved.

4. Strain the cream through a fine-mesh strainer; remove the vanilla bean and save for another use. The seeds should be fine enough to pass through the strainer with the milk. Press a piece of plastic wrap on the milk/cream's surface so a milky film won't form, and set aside.

5. Pour into 6 5-ounce ramekins. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight until set. The custard should be firm when touched lightly with your fingertips.

Puree 1 1/4 cups raspberries in a blender with the water, sugar, kirsch, and lemon juice. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Place in a bowl and add the remaining 3/4 cup raspberries; stir together. The sauce can be made a couple of days ahead of time and refrigerated.

1. Just before serving, put each ramekin in hot water about half to 3/4 the height of a ramekin for 10 to 30 seconds to loosen the custard. If necessary, run a small knife around the edge of each ramekin, pressing the blade to the side of the ramekin as you do, the help loosen the panna cotta.

Place an individual rimmed soup bowl over the top of the ramekin and turn it upside down. Tap the bottom of the ramekin and lift slowly.

2. Spoon the raspberry sauce around the pannacotta and garnish with fresh strawberries. On another plate, offer Amaretti Cookies!

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