I had heard the name panna cotta before but never looked into it until I read about it on And She Cooks. The pictures made me look, but I was fascinated to find out that it is like a custard, only made with gelatin instead of eggs. That sounds easier, but then I read elsewhere about people not dissolving their gelatin enough or boiling it to death (literally) so that it doesn’t set. As I write this introduction, I am not confident that mine will set and four hours seems like a long time to wait.
I made a simple raspberry sauce to go on mine—really, it took about five minutes—and grated chocolate to go over that as garnish. I figure even if it doesn’t set up, I can pour it in a bowl and it will be like a sweet soup with raspberries and chocolate.
Voila! It worked.
Panna Cotta with Almond Milk
This recipe is adapted from “How to Make Panna Cotta” at The Kitchn.
From the original recipe, I substituted a combination of almond milk and half and half, and I used vanilla bean paste* instead of regular vanilla.
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 cups half and half
3 teaspoons gelatin
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla*
a pinch of salt
I tried to follow the instructions, but was a little put off by the warnings not to boil the milk and gelatin mixture or to boil the milk at all, so I hovered over the pot and was afraid the gelatin might not have completely dissolved. Here’s how I did it:
- Measure almond milk and half and half into large measuring cup. Pour about half of it into a saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Wait 5 minutes.
- The surface of the milk really does wrinkle, as the instructions state, so I turned the heat to low and whisked for 2 minutes while the milk warmed.
- Add the sugar and continue to whisk and warm the mixture. It did not seem to dissolve as quickly as the instructions stated, but when I saw steam rise from the milk, I did take it off the heat, as instructed, hoping that it was dissolved. I continued to whisk it in the warmed pan for another few minutes, just to be a little more sure.
- Add the rest of the milks, vanilla, and salt, whisking until well mixed. See the note below on why you should stick to regular liquid vanilla instead of the vanilla bean paste I used.
- Pour into small dishes that have been sprayed lightly with cooking spray—I used 6 coffee cups that are part of our dinnerware set, because when else would I use those cups?
Now they chill in the refrigerator for at least four hours.
*I tried using vanilla bean paste, but it would not suspend in the runny liquid, and the vanilla seeds fell to the bottom of the cups, on top when unmolded. Just use vanilla. Save the paste for an egg custard which is thick before you pour it in molds. It didn’t affect the taste, except that all the seeds are in that one bite at the top.
Quick Raspberry Sauce
2 pints fresh raspberries
2 cups powdered sugar
splash of lemon juice (maybe a tablespoon)
grated chocolate for garnish
Save a few raspberries for garnish, if desired. Add the rest to a small saucepan. Add sugar and lemon juice and set the pan over medium heat, stirring as soon as the sugar starts to dissolve. Simmer for about 5 minutes, mashing the berries with a potato masher, and stirring occasionally until slightly thickened. Strain the sauce into a bowl and chill, covered, until ready to use.
Serve over unmolded panna cotta with grated chocolate. I’m going to use bowls, whether the panna cotta has set or not.
And She Cooks is right about what a great dessert this is. It’s simple, but looks fancy, and it tastes great. My husband tried to guess what it was, first guessing custard, one of his favorite desserts. Now I’m trying to figure out all kinds of other things to do with panna cotta.