Panna cotta, Italian for “cooked cream,” is a simple dessert that can take on many flavours. This Strawberry Panna Cotta is one of the most special I’ve ever made. I wrote this post in 2014 when I was gripped by grief and exhaustion. Making this panna cotta brought me the first happiness I’d felt in what seemed like a long time. It’s a tall order to expect a dessert to do that, but at the very least it’s filled with the restorative power of deliciousness (with the added bonus of being easy to make).
Strawberry Panna Cotta
In the midst of a pity party yesterday, brought on by this summer of sorrow and soreness, I went to a farmer’s market where I found inspiration and enthusiasm in the form of a basket of perfectly ripe local strawberries. My spirits lifted. A quick stop at the corner store on my way home for whipping cream, and then, this.
This beautiful little pot of … happiness. Creamy, silky, vanilla bean-flecked panna cotta, with subtle strawberry flavour and just a hint of delicate, blushing pink. Topped with an adorable strawberry, could there be a better dessert for summer?
This is kitchen therapy at its best, and prettiest.
I couldn’t limit myself to just a few photos for this post, and why not allow myself this innocent indulgence? I know I’ll return to these photos many times simply to relive the pleasure I felt creating this dessert (and the even greater pleasure of eating it). Not to mention the serendipitous discovery that the black-eyed Susans blooming in the garden match almost exactly the saucers of my espresso cups.
Oh, frabjous day!
Let’s Make Strawberry Panna Cotta
Simply put, panna cotta is cream that's heated and flavoured, then set. Its impact is far disproportionate to the minimal effort involved in making it.
- 2 cups whipping cream 35%
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 cup strawberry puree strained (from approximately 8 large berries)
- 2 tsp gelatin
Combine the whipping cream and sugar in a small heavy pot. Whisk to dissolve the sugar, while heating over medium high heat. When the cream starts to shimmer, turn the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, puree or mash the strawberries, and then push through a fine mesh strainer to capture the seeds.
Also while the cream is heating, sprinkle the gelatin on top of 1/4 cup cold water. Let it bloom for a few minutes, then add 1/4 cup boiling water and stir briskly with a fork until clear.
When the cream reaches its ten minutes of simmering time, take it off the heat and whisk in the vanilla bean paste and strawberry puree. Then add the gelatin mixture and whisk until it's all evenly, blushingly pink.
Pour or ladle into ramekins, espresso cups or whatever charming containers you have that can tolerate receiving hot liquid. I set my espresso cups in a baking pan, and left on a rack on the counter for about 10 minutes before placing on the top shelf of the refrigerator. Once cold, I covered the pan with a length of waxed paper. The panna cotta cups require at least four hours to set and can be made up to a day ahead.
To serve, garnish with a petite strawberry, preferably one with its charming green cap still in place.
Looking for More Panna Cotta Goodness?
I don’t know why I don’t have a million different versions of panna cotta on the blog, but here are two that show you the different directions it can take. Let’s start with this subtly flavoured Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta, and then move on to a classic vanilla panna cotta where the wow factor comes from the topping, this Panna Cotta with Blackberry Coulis.