How is it that one of my all time favourite desserts – the classic Italian panna cotta – is also one of the easiest and quickest things to make? Honestly, if you’re short on time and yet want to impress, you can’t go past it.
The reason it’s quick is that you don’t have to fuss with creating a custard with eggs, such as when you’re making a creme brulee or creme caramel. Nope, this is simply about adding cream and milk to chocolate and adding in some gelatine to make it set. Chuck it in the fridge for a few hours and Bob’s your uncle!
I found this delicious recipe from New Zealand’s Eat Well website. The original recipe is for a dark chocolate panna cotta, but I rather fancied a good old milk chocolate version. With that, I paired the delectable (and reasonably healthy) raw dark chocolate sauce I’ve used previously, and everyone loved the milk/dark chocolate combo. However, feel free to use your own choice of topping.
There’s not a lot more to say, other than this is the perfect dessert when you’re short on time and energy but when you want to create something that looks, and tastes, pretty spectacular. Enjoy!
- 2-1/2 teaspoons gelatine, powdered
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup milk (I used whole milk)
- Approx. 2 tablespoons caster sugar (superfine)*
- 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste)
- 200g (7 oz) milk chocolate, finely chopped
- Cream and fresh fruit, to serve
- (See recipe here)
- Lightly spray four to six moulds with oil (or wipe lightly with oil).
- Place the gelatine in a small bowl and add the water, giving it a good stir. Leave for a few minutes - the gelatine will soften.
- Into a medium sized saucepan, add the cream, milk, sugar* and the vanilla pod (or vanilla paste) and bring to near scalding point (but not simmering). Take off the heat, take out the vanilla bean (if using) and whisk in the softened gelatine until well combined.
- Place the finely chopped chocolate into a medium sized bowl and immediately pour the hot milk mixture over the chocolate. Let it stand for a minute to soften the chocolate, then stir the mixture until the chocolate is fully melted.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared moulds and then refrigerate to set for three to four hours.
- To turn out the puddings, take a fine paring knife and carefully run it around the outsides of each panna cotta. One by one, dip the moulds into hot water for 20-30 seconds, then turn onto a serving plate. They may need a bit of a shake for the pudding to plop out.
- Serve immediately with a dollop of cream, some fresh fruit and some raw dark chocolate sauce.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting