You can easily multiply the recipe to serve even a larger number of guests
Panna Cotta or Cooked Cream is a one of my favorite desserts to make and eat. These are my reasons to love them so much;
They are so easy to make, takes only a few minutes to whip up and the rest is setting time.
Can be made ahead, so it is ideal when you have a lot of guest over. Makes a great weeknight dessert.
You can flavor them with literally anything. Chocolate, coffee, fruit, berries, tea, matcha, saffron, spices the list goes on…
Last but not least, you can use non-dairy milk to make these. Yes, I have used coconut milk/cream with great results.
Before jumping into the recipe, I will answer a few questions I received and mention some other important details.
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Infusing the cream and milk
A great way to add flavor to your Panna Cotta is infusing the cream and milk mixture with it. This is great when you want to add citrus, tea flavors or even vanilla which is the signature flavor for panna cotta. My favorite thing is to infuse vanilla panna cotta with lemon zest.
Serving Panna Cotta
I usually serve them as is or with some fresh berries. Lately I have started to experiment with light syrups and coulis. Vanilla panna cotta with raspberry coulis is a match made in heaven. In this recipe, I’ll show you my latest twist, which is a Orange and Mandarin Syrup (glaze)
Getting the perfect wobble
If you add too much gelatin, the panna cotta would set too hard and be very rubbery. It is not very pleasant to eat. So using the right gelatin to liquid ratio is crucial. One thing to note is, if you are adding a lot of extra liquid (more than 2 tablespoons) to get flavor, like orange juice, tea, etc. make sure to adjust the amount of gelatin.
Also adding chocolate will cause the panna cotta to lose their wobble a bit. As chocolate contains fat which will set hard in the fridge.
Do not pour hot syrup or toppings on the panna cotta, as it will melt right away.
Which gelatin to use
You can use either powdered(granules) gelatin or sheets. Rough conversion is;
1 tablespoon powdered = 1 envelop(7g) granulated = 3 sheets(225 strength)
Personally I preferer to use gelatin sheets as they are reliable, no need to weigh, easier to store and dissolve easily. I used to get intimidated by the sheets until, I got a chance to use them excessively at the bakery school and then later when working in the industry. I encourage you to try it if you haven’t.
The type of gelatin you use doesn’t affect the taste or the end result, it is entirely up to you to decide.
Gelatin may have varying setting strengths (bloom strength). Read the packaging to see the ratio. It says how much to use to firmly set 500ml of liquid or so. And for panna cotta use a little less than required (.75 times), otherwise it firmly setts the liquid, like jelly.
eg: Knox gelatin is 225 bloom and Gold sheet gelatin is 200
Read more here about gelatin strength and conversions if you are interested.
To bloom powdered/granulated gelatin, you have to dissolve it in some liquid(use some from the recipe) and set aside for about 5 minutes. This will ensure that the gelatin will be dissolved evenly and fully. Once bloomed, you can add it straight to a hot liquid and mix. If the liquid is not hot, you can microwave/heat the bloomed gelatin until it becomes liquid and then add it.
To bloom sheets, submerge them in a big bowl of tap cold water and set aside for 2-3 minutes (don’t leave too long as it will break down and it would be difficult to fish out the pieces). Squeeze off the excess water and add straight in to a hot liquid and stir to mix. If the liquid is not hot, you can microwave/heat the bloomed gelatin until it becomes liquid and then add it.
Avoid re-boiling the liquid with gelatin in it. This might cause the gelatin to change its texture and curdle. If the gelatin didn’t fully dissolve, it is okay to slightly heat the liquid (over a double boiler is the safest) and stir until gelatin is disappeared.
Setting Panna Cotta
Just like any gelatin set dessert, refrigeration is the best option. Gelatin will start to set as it cools and firm up at room temperature too, but this may take a very long time and it is not an option when setting milk or cream which could go off pretty quickly at room temperature.
Freezing will cause the mixture to crystalize and the texture will be icy. So avoid doing this.
Panna cotta will set in about 5-6 hours in the fridge. It may take longer depending on the ingredients. Too much sugar, fruits will slow down setting and also the strength of gelatin. So give as much time as possible.
You can use any type of mold. Stainless steel, ceramic, plastic etc. If you don’t want to invert the panna cotta, you can set them straight in glass serving jars.
I find plastic mold to be the easiest when it comes to demolding. Because it is flexible, you can slightly squeeze the sides to encourage release.
If you are planning on inverting, it is a good idea to lightly grease/oil the interior. Oli your finger lightly and just rub the interior. Do not use excessively, never try to brush with oil or butter. You just need to reduce traction a bit, so the set panna cotta would slide off easily.
Place cream and milk in a saucepan, Add the zest of two oranges. If you like it to be zingy add some lemon zest too.
Place the cream and milk mixture on medium heat and add the sugar and orange juice. Stir to dissolve all the sugar. Bring to a boil and take off the heat
While the cream and milk cooks, bloom the gelatin.
If using sheets, make sure to squeeze out as much water as possible.
Add the bloomed gelatin to the hot liquid and stir until all the gelatin is dissolved. Bloomed gelatin dissolves very fast.
Prepare your molds, ramekins or serving glasses. Strain the milk and cream mixture into a jug.
Pour into the prepared containers. Do not fill to the brim. Leave some space to avoid spillage. Also the gap helps in releasing later.
This a tip: place all the molds on a tray and then refrigerate. This is a good way to make sure they are leveled and also to avoid accidents inside the fridge.
While panna cotta are setting, make the syrup. This can be made ahead too. Anyway the syrup need to cool completely before going on the panna cotta.
All you need is 1 part Orange and Mandarin juice and 1 part sugar. I prefer to leave the pulp in. If you want you can strain it too.
Add some Orange or Mandarin zest.
Place everything in a saucepan, stir and bring to a boil. Make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Boil for about 30 seconds and then reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the syrup just starts to thicken.
Lift the spoon and observe. The last drop should cling to the spoon for some time before slowly dripping back into the saucepan.
If you reduce too much, the syrup will go too thick as it cools. If that happens, add a little OJ and reheat to dilute.
Pour the cooled syrup in a poring jug and set aside until serving time.
You can store the syrup at room temperature. Make sure to cover tightly.
Once the panna cotta are set, invert them on to serving platters. You can demold and let them sit in the fridge too.
Use a pairing knife or an offset spatula to help release. Check the video
Pour some syrup, just before serving