Panna Cotta is simply a soft, sweet, silky-smooth, melt-in-your mouth Italian dessert. It’s similar to a custard (without the eggs) but with a creamier lighter texture. Panna Cotta means “cooked cream” in Italian and originated from northern Italy (Piedmont Region). This is the type of dessert that is perfect for dinner parties (can be prepared ahead) and is a refreshing end to a big meal … it leaves you sweetly satisfied!
- 1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin (plain)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons lemon zest, finely grated
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, strained
In a small heat-proof measuring cup (or bowl), pour 1/4 cup of the cream, sprinkle the gelatin over the cream. Let it rest for 8-10 minutes to allow the gelatin to soften.
Place the cup (with the cream) in a larger bowl of hot water. Stir the cream until the gelatin has dissolved.
In a small saucepan, heat the rest of the cream (1 1/2 cups) with the sugar and lemon zest. Over medium heat, bring to a boil (careful not to let it scorch).
Reduce the heat to low, simmer 5 minutes stirring often.
Remove the pan from heat, add cream-gelatin mixture and lemon juice, whisking until smooth.
With a pastry brush, oil 4 small (5oz.) ramekins (custard cups). If you don’t want to bother with the un-molding of this dessert, use any small bowls you have or wine glasses would be nice. Pour the panna cotta mixture evenly among the ramekins (I use a large measuring cup for easier pouring). Let them cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled (at least 4 hours or overnight).
To serve, dip each cup (one at a time) into a bowl of hot water for a few seconds (to loosen the mixture from the cup). Run a small spatula or butter knife around the edges and invert on a small dessert plate. Garnish with a Sugared Lemon Slice and fresh berries if desired or spoon a bit of Blueberry Sauce around the base, top with fresh blueberries. Chill until ready to serve.