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Italian Panna Cotta Recipe

Italian Panna Cotta Recipe

Panna Cotta is an Italian cream-based dessert. It is made with heavy cream, half and half or whole milk, sugar, gelatin and vanilla.

The ingredients are heated up together just until the sugar and gelatin dissolve then they are poured into individual molds and chilled for a few hours until firm. When ready to serve they are popped out of their mold and served bottom up usually topped with sauce or fruit.   

Gelatin is a protein derived from collagen. It is used in cooking as a solidifier and thickening agent. This is what gives the panna cotta its structure. The gelatin must first be bloomed, the method of placing it into a small amount of liquid where it softens and begins to absorb moisture.

The bloomed gelatin is then added to the hot cream mixture. When cooled in the fridge, the gelatin will cause the mixture to become slightly firm and the cream gives it a rich silky texture.

Classic panna cotta is vanilla flavored using pure vanilla bean. Other popular flavor variations are coffee, chocolate, citrus and alcohol infused.

Origin and Cultural Significance

‘Panna’ means cooked and ‘cotta’ means cream. Panna Cotta is believed to have originated from the Piedmont region of Italy during the 1900’s and gained increased popularity in the twentieth century for its elegant simplicity and quick preparation.

Panna cotta with strawberry

Italian Panna Cotta Recipe

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Panna Cotta is a cream based Italian dessert. It is made with heavy cream, half and half or whole milk, sugar, gelatin and vanilla.


  • Unflavored gelatin powder - 1 tbsp
  • Cold water - 2 Tbsp
  • Heavy cream - 2 cups
  • Half and half - 1 cup
  • Sugar - 1/3 cup
  • Vanilla extract - 1 ½ tsp


  1. In a very small saucepan sprinkle the gelatin over the water and it let stand about 1 minute to soften.
  2. Heat the gelatin mixture over low heat until it dissolves and remove the pan from the heat.
  3. In a large saucepan heat up the heavy cream, half and half, and sugar over moderately high heat.
  4. Stirring constantly, bring it just to a boil then immediately remove the pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture and vanilla extract.
  5. Divide cream mixture among eight ½-cup ramekins and cool to room temperature.
  6. Chill the ramekins, covered, for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  7. Dip ramekins, one at a time, into a bowl of hot water for 3 seconds to loosen the panna cotta.
  8. Invert the ramekin onto center of a small plate and serve cold with desired topping.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 277Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 37mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 0gSugar: 11gProtein: 3g

Nutrition is provided and calculated by Nutritionix. It is for general information purposes and is only a rough estimation.

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