If you’re wanting something light (and jiggly!) for dessert, you can never go wrong with panna cotta. It’s very easy to make and can be made ahead of time( or I should say *must* be made ahead of time). The wonderful thing about panna cotta is you can have a lot of fun playing with it. You can flavor it any way you desire, or top it with berries or granola, or serve it with chocolate syrup, or , my most preferred way, serve it plain as it is.
I call this Black and White Panna Cotta, but really, it’s just vanilla and dark chocolate that contrasts each other with color, but a bliss of flavor when combined.
Vanilla Panna Cotta
- 3 cups half and half cream
- 4-5 tbsps condensed milk
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- 1 packet (or 2 1/2 tsp) unflavored gelatin
Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta
- 1 1/2 cup half and half cream
- 1 heaping tbsp of dark cocoa powder
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 packet ( or about 1 1/4 tsp) unflavored gelatin
For Vanilla Panna Cotta:
Bloom the gelatin in about 2 tbsp of water or half and half or milk. Let it sit for about a minute or so.
Mine eerily looked like this after letting it sit for about 5 minutes.
Pour 3 cups of half and half cream into a huge bowl and throw in the bloomed gelatin.
For sweetness, I prefer to use condensed milk as I think it gives added richness to the panna cotta, but granulated sugar is also perfectly fine. I found about 4-5 tbsps of condensed milk added to the cream is to my liking, but feel free to add more if desired.
Then add about 2 tsps of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract. Lately, I’ve been using vanilla bean paste over vanilla extract, as I like the fact that the paste comes with the seeds and I like seeing those seeds in almost everything I make. It just looks more appetizing and delicious.
Stir the mixture.
Microwave the mixture for about 3-5 minutes until the mixture is slightly warm to touch and there are no lumps from the bloomed gelatin. You can also do this in the saucepan using medium heat and let it come to a simmer.
I thought of a lot of strategies on how to tilt these glass containers to achieve that slanted look. I tried crumpling aluminum foil underneath the glass, but it came out very uneven and delicate. Then there’s also placing the glass at the rim of the saucer, but that didn’t work out very well either. So the best solution I found is using a clean kitchen towel, folded, and placed in the middle of a sheet pan. The containers are then placed tilted between the rim of the sheet pan and the slightly raised edge of the kitchen towel.
Pour the panna cotta mixture into the tilted containers until it reaches almost to the rim.
Next step is probably the most difficult part (at least it was for me!). And that is to deliver these safely and without spilling(!) to the refrigerator to chill and set. That was very much of challenge for me!
Mine took about 3-4 hours to completely set. It’s jiggly (as it’s supposed to be), but solid when touched.
Once completely set, it’s time to do the dark chocolate panna cotta to pour over to the other side of the tilt.
It’s just basically just the same process, adding cocoa flavor instead of vanilla bean for flavor. Since I wanted to make sure that cocoa powder is fully incorporated and no lumps were found, I decided to do this on the stove top.
In the saucepan, bloom 1/2 packet of gelatin with 2 tbsp of water or milk. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes at room temperature. Once bloomed, add the rest of the ingredients to the saucepan, then let it simmer over medium heat, whisking gradually, about 5-8 minutes.
Turn the heat off. Transfer to a container, then let it cool for about 20 minutes in the fridge before pouring to the container.
Once slightly cooled, take the white panna cotta out and re-adjust them so that the glass containers are tilted on the opposite side. Pour the slightly cooled chocolate panna cotta into the containers, almost reaching to the rim.
Let it set and cool completely in the fridge for another 2 hours or so.
You can serve these as it is, or you can add more chocolate as toppings or syrup.