Saturday, November 10, 2012

Weekend Cooking...Panna Cotta

I had been told that it is impossible to have a bad meal in Italy, and while I think that might not be totally true, I will say, from my limited experience, that it is hard. A lot harder than in the U.S.
We had done some research before our trip, looking online for restaurant recommendations in Rome and Florence and Venice...and I am not sure we ended up using any of them. We got some recommendations from the front desks at the hotels, from a couple of our tour guides, a couple were places we had been to before..and we sometimes just stopped at a place that looked nice or was convenient. And most of the meals were very good.
The lovely cured meats, the cheeses, the bread, the tomatoes, the pasta....
And did I mention the pizza? Wow, how do they do that, the perfect crusts, crisp but not dry, the light let flavorful  sauce..awwww.

Well, I am hard pressed to recreate many of these dishes.
But I can try one, a dessert I had in Florence.
We had gone for dinner to a restaurant known for it's wild boar dishes, Osteria del Cinghiale. I had the pasta with a wild boar ragu...delicious. But my supermarket seemed out of boar this week, so I will go with the dessert I had, Panna Cotta with Chocolate sauce.

If I could upload the little video, you could see it jiggle.

I had never had panna cotta and I always like to try some new things at times like this. Creamy, light..and that chocolate sauce was to die for.
So off I went to look for a recipe.
Amazing, the recipe it simple and it is quick and easy to make.
Cream, milk, sugar  and just enough gelatin to hold it together without making it rubbery.


Servings: 8
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
  • Oil
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons sugar 
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Stir to distribute, and set aside to soften 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Wipe the insides of 8 (one-half-cup) ramekins with a light coating of neutral oil and set aside. Half-fill a large bowl with ice and add enough water to make an ice bath and set aside.

3. In a small saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar and lemon zest , and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do not let it boil! Remove from heat, and whisk the very hot milk in the softened gelatin and add the vanilla extract.

4. Set the saucepan in the ice bath  and whisk until the mixture is lukewarm. There should be no grit from undissolved sugar or gelatin.

5. Ladle the mixture into the ramekins and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. If you're going to keep them longer than overnight, cover them with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap gently against the panna cotta to prevent a skin from forming. 

6. About 10 minutes before serving, run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the ramekin. Dip the ramekin briefly in a bowl of hot tap water, and then carefully invert onto a serving plate. If the panna cotta doesn't unmold right away, tap the ramekin lightly on the countertop to loosen it. If it still doesn't unmold, return it to the hot water bath for another five seconds and repeat. Panna cotta can also be served without unmolding. 

Very easy.
Well, except the unmolding part. Perhaps I needed more oil on the ramekins.
Perhaps I will just take the easy way out and serve them  in the cups.
Sounds like a plan!

I had no chocolate sauce of the makings of chocolate sauce on hand so I went with some raspberries from my garden I had in the freezer. Add a little sugar, some lemon juice, bring to a boil to melt the sugar and let it cool. Good to go for a nice fruit sauce.

I turned the 'bad' side to the
Unmolding is an issue, so let's try skipping that step. 
Pour it in a nice glass.
 Yes, I think that might be the way to go.
I put some berries in the bottom, poured in the cooled panna cotta and then topped with some berries once it was firm. 

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. Yum--I love panna cotta. I've always eaten it as restaurants, though, and have never tried to make it at home. Sounds like a good idea and not too hard. Will try this for my next dinner party! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Have never had panna cotta. Tempted to try your recipe now. Thanks!

  3. looks deliciously silky and smooth. I like the idea of the raspberry sauce.

  4. delicious dessert, perfect for the weather now!!!

  5. That looks so pretty! I'm ashamed to admit that I've never been to Italy and I'm not that far away from it. I think it's on the list for next year.

  6. I love this :) I like wobbly desserts :)

  7. Very pretty! I love how it looks in the glass (and then you don't have to worry about the unmolding).

  8. It's gorgeous, although I'm kind of opposed to food that jiggles!

  9. Love pannacotta. Have a super week.

  10. I love panna cotta...but it's one of those things that I've never made (however I've made flan and creme brulee, so same-difference, no?). This sounds so tasty. And what I wouldn't give to eat Panna Cotta (or anything) IN Italy. ;)

  11. Love Panna Cotta and love how it's presented in the glass, besides, no unmolding dramas. Not sure I could make it though, gelatin and myself are not friends :)

  12. Panna cotta is right up there with creme brulee in my list of favorite desserts. Yours look awesome. And what's with the grocery store that has no wild boar?

  13. My sister-in-law makes a wonderful panna cotta. I'm really enjoying reading about your trip to Italy.

  14. I have had panna cotta exactly once in my life, and it was so good. It's great to know I can (attempt) to duplicate it! I am saving this recipe for sure.

  15. My gosh, this looks good! I didn't realize it was simple... I may have to make your recipe this week. YUM.

  16. I've not tried this dessert, but it seems easy enough to make. What about lining the dishes with plastic wrap for very easy unmoulding?

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  18. Deliciously light and frothy, panna cotta is so easy to make and makes a great partner for shiny, distinct summer fruit.
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