Friday, October 1, 2010

Strawberry Panna Cotta - A Luxury Dessert???

In Italian, Panna Cotta literally means "Cooked Cream".  It is surprisingly light, similar in consistency to a flan (but no eggs).  With a hint of vanilla, it tastes surprisingly like a milk shake.  Resting on a bed of Strawberry Sauce, this is going to be my dessert for my planned 7 course luxury meal.  As I write this, I am still  in the running to be the Next Food Blog Star.  Assignment #3 is to host a "Luxury Dinner Party".

I will be working a bit on the presentation, adding a cut strawberry on the top, as well as a garnish of of a chocolate covered strawberry on the side.  But essentially, this is the dish I will be serving.

Here's my thought process...

The dessert needs to be individually plated.  meaning it should not be a cut piece of a cake.  Remember, it is a luxury meal, so large desserts that are cut and served are out.  I looked over my body of work, and I just didn't have anything ready to go.  So, off to the all mighty search engine to do a little research.

Another very important criteria was to serve something that can be made and plated in advance.  Long as I make room in my fridge, I can just pull these out and serve at 8 PM, after making these at noon.  Without a sous chef, having the evening flow is very important.  Moving from one course to the next can not be a 30 minute event (or even a 10 minute event).  Dishes should be cleared and new courses served seamlessly.

Next, I wanted a dramatic look.  The contrast of the stark white panna cotta and the blood red strawberry sauce is pretty.  But the panna cotta, when removed from the ramekin, has a smooth rounded look that is unusual.  Looks a bit like melting ice cream. 

And finally, it needed to fit into my theme.  All of my menu items have a European wine country origin.  I am fudging a bit, with this being Italian and most of the other recipes are French, but wine country is general enough to include both.

So, Penna Cotta it is, and after making a test version, I am pretty happy.  One more advantage, this will be a BIG meal.  I know to serve small portions, but seven courses is still 7 courses.  The penna cotta is very light  Much less filling than a pudding or custard.  And if you don't dip the sauce, it has little heft at all.  Remember, a really light smooth milkshake.  A perfect top to a big meal without weighing yourself down.

OK, this is two parts, the Penna Cotta and the Strawberry sauce... 

Here's what I did...

Panna Cotta
1 tbsp of gelatin powder
1 cup of light cream
1/4 cup of sugar
1 1/4 cup of milk
1 tsp of vanilla

Strawberry Sauce
2 cups of strawberries
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water

  • Combine 2 tbsp of water in a small bowl and sprinkle in the gelatin powder and set aside to bloom.
  • Combine the cream, milk and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until sugar dissolved.
  • Add in the gelatin and continue to stir until gelatin dissolved. Add in vanilla.
  • Pour the mixture into small cups or ramekins, let cool to room temperature and refrigerate until set.
  • To remove, warm the outside of the ramekins in a warm water bath for just a couple minutes, will flip over easily.
  • For the sauce, Combine strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook until the strawberries are broken down. It will take about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and run through a food processor to get an even consistency
  • Refrigerate the sauce to let it thicken.
  • Once ready to serve, drizzle the sauce over the panna cotta, or make a bed and rest the penna cotta on top.
And just that easy... Luxury (I hope).



  1. Sounds pretty luxurious to me! YUM =) (fingers crossed!)

  2. Elegant and beautiful in its simplicity. Awesome.

  3. Mmm panna cotta is VERY luxury! Especially all dolled up like this. Looks glorious!

  4. Very fancy-smhancy and luscious looking! Can't wait to see what else you're serving!

  5. Your comment made me smile Dave! Enjoy your luxury dinner in your cul de sac with Jackie! :D

  6. We tried panna cotta once (actually tried the same recipe twice) and it was a total fail. Maybe we should try a recipe more like this one.