Mama Mia! It’s panna cotta!


Guess what’s for dessert? Oh my goodness, my friend Justine brought me the most delicious treat recently. It’s called panna cotta, which is of course Italian, and it comes originally from the Piedmonte area in northern Italy, which makes sense as they have dairies, in addition to vineyards. I don’t know how it’s escaped my radar all this time. And it was sooooo delicious I immediately asked for the recipe and learned how to make it, and lucky you if you didn’t know either. You are about to find out. I know I have myriad readers who will tell me they have traversed Italy many times and have made this for years. Send me your recipes and I will try them as well. But for the uninitiated, pull up a chair. We’re about to make panna cotta! YUM!!!

I have to say this right off the bat. This dessert is so ridiculously easy to make it’s almost sinful as everyone will think you worked really hard to create such a special, luscious, and beautiful treat. Not so! Watch this!
step one

Ready? OK, measure out 1 1/2 cups of plain yogurt and 1 1/2 cups of half and half. Oh. Did I mention this dessert is fattening?? You can only serve this when you have guests, my dears. You can’t get addicted, OK? Promise me. OK, now that we have that out of the way, moving right along. Mix in a single bowl the yogurt and the half and half into which you’ve put one teaspoon of vanilla, and then add two teaspoons of lemon zest. Now let me mention here that I used very high quality organic yogurt. Straus. Can you get Straus all over the US? Probably. But use the highest quality yogurt you can find. I would think in Europe this would be easily obtained. And since we are using the lemon peel, it’s critical that be organic as well. Some of you will have your own trees, though it’s a bit late in the season. And, oh please use only real vanilla. Really, my darlings. You must. You want the best ingredients for the best result.

OK, step two already! (Wasn’t that easy?) Pour 1/4 cup lemon juice in a small bowl.

step two
Pour into the lemon juice one envelope of unflavored gelatin and stir it up. (Jello! Do you believe it??) Now let this stand for five minutes.

OMG, we’re almost done. (I told you!) Now. Put 1/2 cup heavy cream (gasp!) in a small pan and add 1/2 cup sugar and just barely heat it enough that the sugar dissolves into the cream. So easy!
cream & sugar

Now the big finale. (Did I mention how E-A-S-Y this is???) Pour the cream and sugar mixture into the lemon juice/gelatin bowl. Stir until you don’t see any lumps. Lumps would be bad. Then pour the lemon/cream/gelatin mixture into the yogurt mixture. And you are basically done. Can you believe it? I barely can. Now this is what I did.
filling bowls

I took out my dear old Grandmother’s pudding bowls (she left five) and filled those. I love how they look and I love that they were hers. Pick your favorites. Traditionally I think recipes say use ramekins. I personally like the idea of pudding bowls, but that’s just me. So be creative–as long as you can get it OUT, as that’s the next step. I’ll tell you how in a minute. Meanwhile, refrigerate the panna cotta overnight. (You could do it in less time in a pinch, say, at least five hours?)

Now this is the beautiful part. You are going to top your panna cotta with berries! Doesn’t that sound delicious? I experimented with blueberries and strawberries. Look at this.


Aren’t they inspiring, those gorgeous berries? So here’s what I did. Once the panna cotta was set (and I waited overnight to be sure) I first ran a knife carefully around the inner edge. Then I filled a bowl with hot hot water and held each pudding dish in the water until the panna cotta could slip onto a dessert plate. It’s less scary than it sounds, as you can just put the dessert plate on top of the bowl and flip it and see if it comes out. It not, dip the dish in the hot water a little longer and try again. You’ll get it. This is the most delicate part, as you can see.

Then I put the blueberries in a little pan with a little water and sugar and heated quickly until they broke down a bit and the liquid thickened just a little. The strawberries I sliced and then sprinkled with a teeny bit of sugar. Then I simply spooned the berries onto the panna cotta, for an incredible result. I find this to be a very elegant dessert worthy of holiday fare.

panna cotta

I hope you and your family thoroughly enjoy your panna cotta, and it becomes a treasured family recipe. Let me know, will you?

Love and kitchen blessings,
Kathryn xoxoox

16 Responses to “Mama Mia! It’s panna cotta!”

  1. How gorgeous, Kathryn! Your guests will love you for feeding them these jewels. Wonder if there’s a way to make this without the gelatin (a no-no for us vegetarians)? Worth looking into, i think. And meanwhile, there’s always creme caramel…

  2. Hi, Our Friend Ben, I think this is one of those recipes where I will lose a few folks. I was more thinking of the non-dairy people. I had not anticipated the no gelatin crowd. πŸ™‚ Sorry. :)I just googled “gelatin substitute” and got “agar”. Perhaps someone who will read this can make a good suggestion. You will not be alone. If I hear of anything else I’ll add to this response. Thanks for the visit. Kathryn xoxo

    Footnote: Just found this: “Agar due to its high gelling properties is considered the queen of gelling agents.”

  3. What a lovely decadent dessert! The presentation was gorgeous with the berries, china dessert plates, tablecloth & fresh flowers. Thanks for a great recipe that sounds pretty easy to make but looks extremely gourmet!

  4. Exactly, perennial gardener! Thank you for your kind comments! I hope you will try! I’m dying to hear from someone who makes it! πŸ™‚ Kathryn xoxo

  5. Absolutely awesome! Hooray for you, Kathryn.

    I’m eager to try this on the neighborhood for one of our Sunday dinners. It has occurred to me that steeping the cream with some of my carefully harvested lavender beforehand might be a really fun, garden enhanced variation.

    The pictures and storytelling take this to a happy, learning plane.

    Thank you!!!

  6. Gorgeous!!! They look soooo YUMMY!!!! πŸ˜€
    I’ll have to try it when I’m eating sugar again! Something to look forward to! πŸ˜‰

    Love you,

  7. Hi, David, Yes, I think lavender in the cream is a good option and it just sounds like the Mr. Perry we know and adore. Let us know! And thank you for your positive feedback! Encouraging! Kathryn xoxo

  8. Hi, Baby Girl! They are so yummy. I will make you some when you come up! FUN! Love, Mommie xoxo

  9. Hi,
    You made this sound so easy and fun!
    We will try it on Sunday for Sunday dinner’s dessert!
    Yogurt is so good for you, too.
    We have the meyer lemons on the tree for the tree and berries in the garden so we will be all set.

  10. Hi, Philip! I was SO sure you’d be one of my readers who had been making this for years! πŸ™‚ Please let me know how it goes! I found it so easy I kept going back to the recipe thinking, “That’s IT??” thinking I’d left something out. You’ll see. πŸ™‚ How lovely you have the lemons and berries at hand–even more special! Kathryn xoxo

  11. Thanks for the beautiful post and sharing this special recipe, dear Kathryn. How yummy! And congratulations for being chosen on 10 Popular Garden Blogs. You are remarkable!

  12. Dear Joey, Thank you so much for your congratulations and, of course, for the visit! Hugs! Kathryn xxoo

  13. That just speaks to me. I love creamy desserts with caramel or fruit on top. I may use fresh fig preserves. My sister in law just made some for me, so I think I will put a spoon of that on top. The ingredients are so simple, most of us would have them on hand.

  14. Welcome, Eve! Fresh fig preserves sounds like a delicious idea to me! So does caramel. YUM!
    Thanks for the visit! Kathryn xox

  15. Positively decadent! I’ve heard of panna cotta many times, but I don’t think I ever knew exactly what it was. Thanks for the clear and concise instructions! I can picture this as a new favorite at Christmas…with lots of strawberries and a mint leaf for decoration. πŸ™‚

  16. Hi, Nancy! You were ahead of me. Somehow I’d never even heard of it! You are welcome for the instructions. It was fun to share! The mint leaf would be the perfect touch! Let me know! Kathryn xoxo

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