Simplicity at its finest, this softly set pudding takes almost no effort to make, yet is nothing short of amazing! Even though panna cotta (lit. cooked cream) wasn't mentioned in Italian cookbooks until the 1960s, today it is considered a traditional Piedmontese dessert, and the original recipe calls for only whole cream, sugar, vanilla, and gelatin.
When made to perfection and properly chilled, panna cotta is silky smooth, deliciously creamy, and has a gentle wobble to it. For a slightly lighter version of this scrumptious dessert, use half-and-half instead of heavy cream, or simply dilute heavy cream with milk.
According to Anna Del Conte, a renowned food writer and leading figure in Italian cuisine, classic Piedmontese panna cotta is served on its own or sometimes accompanied with Brutti ma buoni hazelnut meringue biscotti, while the Valle d’Aosta version of panna cotta is flavored with a dash of peach eau-de-vie and garnished with red berry coulis.
In other parts of Italy, panna cotta is frequently flavoured with rum or sweet Marsala wine and topped with a generous drizzle of caramel sauce, which perfectly complements the seductive aroma of vanilla. Imagination being the only limit, variations on this elegant dessert are virtually endless, and it can be easily tailored to anyone’s taste.
The simplest of desserts, this softly set pudding is prepared with only five ingredients: cream, milk, sugar, gelatin, and vanilla. Although the name translates as cooked cream, the dessert is actually only warmed, not cooked. Cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla are heated, but just as the cream is about to boil, it is removed from the stove, and the gelatin is whisked in. The panna cotta is then preferably strained to make it as smooth as possible and poured into, traditionally, caramel-coated molds, which are then kept in the freezer for two to three hours until the puddings have set. For serving, panna cotte are unmolded, each onto an individual plate, and can be garnished with some fresh fruit.
INGREDIENTS for 6 servings
1/2 liter of cream
1/3 liter of whole milk
200g of powdered vanilla sugar
3 sheets of gelatine
1 cup of rum
1/2 cup of Marsala wine
8 tbsp of sugar
4 tbsp of water
Preparation 15 min
To make the caramel, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and cook it over medium heat without stirring. First, the sugar will dissolve, then start do darken in color as it continues to simmer for the next 8-10 minutes. Pour it into the prepared mold, and quickly swirl to coat every surface.
Heat the milk with gelatine in a saucepan until the gelatin dissolves. At the same time, in another pan, while continuously stirring, bring the cream and the sugar almost to the boil. Combine the mixtures from both pans and add rum and marsala.
Finally, pour the mixture into a rectangular plum cake mold, previously covered in caramel and let it settle in a refrigerator, for at least three hours.