Your place for traditional Italian recipes
Panna Cotta Recipes
Cannoli Panna Cotta
with Dark Chocolate Sauce and Pizzelle
Vanilla Panna Cotta
Chocolate Panna Cotta
Cannoli Panna Cotta
Panna Cotta Sauces and Garnishes
Panna Cotta is a soft, creamy, eggless custard whose name literally means ‘cooked cream.’  Despite its luxurious texture and elegant presentation, panna cotta is easy to prepare and is a blank slate for many added flavors.  The basic method for making panna cotta is to heat some cream, add sugar, softened gelatin and flavorings, and chill until set.  It can be molded in ramekins or served in glasses or dessert dishes.  Traditional panna cotta recipes use heavy cream as the primary dairy ingredient.  Some our our recipes contain sour cream or yogurt in addition to the cream.  The reason for this is to replicate the consistency of the thick cream of the Piedmont region of Italy, the area where panna cotta originated.  The addition creates a creamier texture and adds a subtle tang to the flavor.  Panna cotta can be made ahead of time.  When it is time to serve, simply unmold and garnish.  Panna cotta is a wonderful base for a wide range of luscious accompaniments, from chocolate to fruit and sauces.  Have fun mixing and matching to make your own personalized dessert.

All of the recipes call for powdered unflavored gelatin.  This product comes packaged in boxes of 1/4-ounce (2-1/2 teaspoons) envelopes and is also available in bulk.  Leaf or sheet gelatin is more widely used in Europe than in the US.  Four gelatin sheets equal 2-1/2 teaspoons or 1 envelope of powdered gelatin.  Panna cotta recipes call for softening the gelatin.  This is done by sprinkling it into a cold liquid (as stated in each recipe) to bloom.  You can stir it into the liquid to facilitate the softening.  All of the powder should be softened before adding it to the warm cream mixture.  Once the gelatin is heated in the cream, be sure that it is fully dissolved; you should not see or feel any gelatin granules.
Vanilla Panna Cotta

(Serves 6)

Vanilla panna cotta pairs well with almost any sauce. 
Try it with Balsamic Strawberries.


2-1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/4 cup water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt


Put heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Remove from heat and allow to steep, covered,
for 15 minutes.

Place water in a small bowl.  Add the gelatin and allow to sit for 5 minutes for the gelatin to soften.

Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds from the pod.  Stir the seeds into the cream mixture.  Discard the pod.  Rewarm the cream mixture 2 to 3 minutes, until warm but not hot.  Whisk in the gelatin until blended and dissolved.  Whisk in the yogurt.  Evenly divide mixture among 6 ramekins.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Unmold and serve.
Chocolate Panna Cotta

(Serves 6)


1 cup milk
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup sugar
2-1/3 cups heavy cream, divided
6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Place milk in a small bowl.
Add the gelatin and allow to sit for 5 minutes for the gelatin to soften.

Bring the sugar and 3/4 cup of heavy cream to a simmer in a saucepan.
Stir until the sugar dissolves and remove from the heat.  Whisk in the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder until melted and smooth.  Stir in the remaining cream.  Reheat the mixture until warm.  Add the gelatin mixture and vanilla; whisk until gelatin is dissolved.  Evenly divide mixture among 6 ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Unmold and serve.
Cannoli Panna Cotta

(Serves 6)

This panna cotta imitates the flavors of a classic cannoli; ricotta cheese, almond flavor, bits or orange, chocolate, and pistachios.  Serve with pizzele, biscotti, or amaretti for the pastry crunch.


1-1/2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup shelled pistachios, chopped

1 recipe Dark Chocolate Sauce
Pizzelle, biscotti, or amaretti for garnish


Put ricotta cheese and 1/2 cup heavy cream in a blender.  Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine gelatin and remaining heavy cream.  Let sit 5 minutes to soften gelatin.  Cook over low heat until the gelatin is dissolved. Whisk in the vanilla, almond extract, orange zest, and confectioners’ sugar.
Whisk in the ricotta mixture until smooth.  Evenly divide mixture among 6 ramekins.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Unmold onto dessert plates.  Spoon chocolate syrup around each and top with pistachios.  Serve with cookies.
Panna Cotta Sauces and Garnishes

Balsamic Strawberries:  In a bowl, toss 1 pint of strawberries with 2 teaspoons of sugar, a pinch of pepper, and 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.  Cover and chill.  Bring to room temperature 15 minutes before serving with panna cotta.

Dark Chocolate Sauce:  Bring 3/4 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons corn syrup to a simmer in a saucepan.  Remove from heat and stir in 8 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate until smooth.  Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Let stand until slightly cooled and thickened.  Serve or cover and chill.  Stir over low heat to warm before serving.

Honey Whipped Cream:  In a bowl beat 1 cup heavy cream, 3 tablespoons honey , and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until soft peaks form.

Raspberry Sauce:  Puree 1/2 pint fresh raspberries in a blender.  Strain through a sieve to remove the seeds.  Heat the puree in a small saucepan with 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, just enough to dissolve the sugar.  Serve warm or refrigerate for later use. (You can use this same method with any type of berry.)

Caramel-Pecan Sauce: Heat 1 cup of caramel sauce with 2/3 cup toasted and chopped pecans.  Stir until warm and serve with panna cotta.

Bourbon Walnut Sauce: In a small saucepan, simmer 2/3 cup of honey, 1/4 cup bourbon, 3 tablespoons golden raisins, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice until sauce thickens slightly.  Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 3/4 cup toasted, chopped walnuts.  Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

Blueberry Sauce: In a saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest.  Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes.  Remove form heat and stir in 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries.  Cool completely before serving.
More Panna Cotta Recipes  >>
Tips for Making and Unmolding Panna Cotta  >>
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