Panna cotta is a lovely dessert or special snack that both children and adults enjoy. I think a lot of us buy prepared puddings and other milky desserts because we don’t realize how simple it is to make them at home.
I’m sharing my basic recipe, which is beautiful with fresh berries, but you can choose any seasonal fruit. I’m also including an option to add orange zest, which creates an elevated version of an orange Creamsicle.
A word of warning: Do not substitute the whole milk for something with lower fat or the pudding won’t set.
This is a great make-ahead dessert if you have the refrigerator space for it.
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon plain gelatin
3 cups whipping cream
⅓ cup honey
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
Fresh fruit, or
1 rounded teaspoon orange zest (for the orange version)
In a glass bowl, add the milk, then sprinkle the gelatin powder over it. You may need to use 2 packets of powdered gelatin to get a full tablespoon. Most packets contain about 2 teaspoons of powder. I find that Lieber’s plain clear gelatin works well.
Let sit for 5 minutes. You will see a film on top of the milk.
Pour the milk and gelatin mixture into a large saucepan and bring to just under a boil over medium heat. Be careful during this step because you don’t want the gelatin to dissolve, which happens if it goes into a full boil.
Slowly, stir in the cream, honey, sugar and salt with a whisk. Continuously stir for 6-7 minutes or until the granulated sugar has dissolved.
If you want to make the orange version, whisk in the orange zest.
Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes if you’re going to be using glass or ceramic cups to serve. If you’re using plastic cups, allow to cool for an additional 5 minutes. Pour into cups or glasses of your choice until they are half full, leaving room to add the fruit when it’s time to serve. I’ve used crystal wine glasses, ramekins and even small glass cups with lids.
Refrigerate 6-8 hours, or up to 2 days before serving. These usually keep well for 4-5 days. Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC
Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.