Strawberry Panna Cotta Recipe

Panna cotta is a traditional Piemontese recipe — the name means “cooked cream” in Italian. There are many variations of the recipe, but it is generally made by simply simmering together some cream, milk and sugar, mixing this with gelatin, before letting it cool until set.

The cream mixture can also be flavored, often with a vanilla pod, sometimes with fruit or fruit juice, but you could also experiment with tea, cocoa powder, and different spices or extracts — not very traditional but also very good. Some people enjoy the panna cotta on its own, but it is usually served with a sauce (often a berry coulis), which adds some sweetness: the cream itself is supposed to be only subtly sweet.

When the chef appeared behind the bar after the meal, my cousin’s wife Guénola and I asked him if he could possibly share his recipe for panna cotta.

A couple of months ago, two of my cousins, my sister and I had dinner together with our respective darlings at an Italian restaurant in the 15th called Swann et Vincent (named after the two little boys of the previous owner — three locations in Paris). For dessert, each couple shared an order of panna cotta (ain’t that sweet). Now, panna cotta is not usually my first choice, especially when a large and moist chocolate cake is winking at me from the dessert counter, but we had eaten well — those people make an astounding herb focaccia — and panna cotta sounded like a good way to end the meal with something sweet, yet not too heavy.

The panna cotta was very good, and when the chef appeared behind the bar after the meal, my cousin’s wife Guénola and I asked him if he could possibly share the recipe. He hesitated for a moment (he is probably not used to customers asking him for a recipe: this is pretty rare in France, and may even be considered impolite or undistinguished by some, but hey, we took the risk), then smiled and told us the list of ingredients and their amounts. It turned out to be much simpler than I thought, and I jotted it all down on the restaurant card as we stepped out, promising all the girls in our party that I would tell them if I tried reproducing it (the boys were strangely uninterested, you could tell who insisted on dessert in the first place).

And this is the recipe I used (scaling it down to a quarter, they obviously make bigger batches at the restaurant!) for dessert when Derrick and Melissa came to dinner a week ago. I served it with fresh strawberry coulis (a breeze to make and so much tastier than store-bought), a few fresh strawberries and a Petit Beurre, the classic French butter cookie. Definitely a make-again dessert, so fresh and fruity and pretty!

PS: This came after a cheese course, served with traditional baguette and baguette des prés, the multigrain baguette I love so much, and featuring cheese bought at the market that morning: a semi-dry goat cheese from the Ferme de Bréviande (Loir-et-Cher), a tome de brebis (sheep’s milk), a runny and super-flavorful goat cheese with sarriette (summer savory) and a Nivernais, a deliciously creamy cow’s milk cheese from the same-name region. I think we got our dose of dairy for at least a week.

Strawberry Panna Cotta Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Serves 4.

Strawberry Panna Cotta Recipe

Ingredients

    For the panna cotta:
  • 240 ml (1 cup) whipping cream
  • 240 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 2 grams (1 tsp) agar-agar (or 3 sheets gelatin, 6 to 7 grams; see note)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • For the strawberry coulis:
  • 250 grams (9 ounces) fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar
  • Optional, for decoration:
  • 12 small fresh strawberries
  • four butter cookies (such as Petits Beurres)

Instructions

  1. Combine all the pannacotta ingredients (if using gelatin, see instructions below) in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring from time to time, without letting the mixture boil. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Rinse 4 half-cup ramequins or bowls quickly under cold water, and do not dry (this will help unmold them if you choose to). Divide the panna cotta mixture evenly among them. Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours or overnight.
  3. To make the strawberry coulis, combine the strawberries a small saucepan with the sugar and two tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer and remove from the heat immediately. Using a blender or food processor, process until smooth. Cover, let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Serve the panna cotta in their ramequins topped with a layer of coulis, or unmold carefully onto plates and drizzle with the coulis. Decorate each plate with three whole strawberries and a butter cookie.

Notes

If you are using gelatin instead of agar-agar, do not combine the gelatin with the rest of the ingredients. Instead, soak the sheets in a bowl of cold water while you bring the other ingredients to a simmer, then squeeze with your hands to drain (they will be soft), and whisk into the (hot but not boiling) panna cotta mixture to dissolve completely before pouring into the ramekins.)

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  • http://www.overacuppa.com may

    looks lovely! i love panna cotta and will be trying the recipe soon with some blueberries! =C) thanks for sharing…

  • http://www.firstratekate.blogspot.com Kate

    so pretty! and it looks so easy to make! I need to add more desserts to my repertoire. Right now, I do appetizers and my husband is the main-course man, but no one covers desserts.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/tea_cantata/ nattie

    Mmmmmmmm. I might well have a go at this – and it’s veggie too, without gelatine! I had the most stunning dessert some time back, a lemongrass pannacotta. *dribble* I’m going to try tor recreate that with the help of this recipe, I think.

  • http://www.fancyglass.blogspot.com/ lauren in Tokyo

    Thanks for this yummy post, I love panacotta. We had a great one at the wine dinner in my restaurant last month, I posted about in in my blog. http://fancyglass.blogspot.com

    Ours was made with Okinawan Takan, a kind of small tangerine.

    *lauren

  • Cocoaloco

    Last year, my first attempt at panna cotta was a failure and I gave up. I am inspired to try again.

  • Moira

    I’ve never had this dish before. It’s lovely! I can’t wait to try it. I might also try replacing 1/2 of the milk with unsweetened coconut milk?… sounds refreshing too. Moira

  • http://www.carablack.com Cara

    Panna cotta…yum…wish it had been on the menu the time we ate at the Swann and Vincent in a passage in the 11th!

  • joan

    one of THE desserts! The velvet texture of it ~ I think it’s a “either you do or you don’t like it” dish. I know some who find it all too too too rich, as in cream rich.

    However MOI can never have enough from the dairy :-)

    The coulis topping I will try. (reads like Yoda!)

  • http://epicesetcompagnie.blogspot.com aude

    bonjour Clotilde,
    j’ai aussi découvert dernièrement que la panna cotta n’était pas si compliquée à faire. Tu as eu raison de demander la recette :”qui ne tente rien n’a rien”. bises.

  • http://www.olipo.blogspot.com/ chocopie

    Strawberry is the fruit what I like the most.
    Harmony of fresh strawberry and cream.
    I’ll try to make it

  • Seán

    Panna cotta is one of my favourite desserts! Deflina in San Francisco has a buttermilk panna cotta that I would die for everytime!

  • Edward

    Bonjour, Clotilde! I’ve always seen fancy variations on panna cotta, but it’s great to see this simple version. I only have envelopes of gelatin available to me. Should I measure them out to 1 1/2tsp or what? Thanks! :)

  • Kitten

    Panna cotta is even better if you substitute coconut milk for 2/3 of the milk & cream, that is, 166ml milk-and-cream, 333ml coconut milk. It’s a Michel Bras inspiration.

  • Becca

    marvelous recipe … just what I was looking for … thank you.

  • http://www.lexculinaria.com Lyn

    I adore panna cotta, and yours looks absolutely wonderful. I can’t wait to try it.

  • kali

    I tried the recipe but unfortunately it didn’t come out as i had hoped for. It was very stiff.I’m pretty sure i mesured the agar agar correctly (i used the powder kind)…I cooked it until it started to simmer and the only thing i did do that wasn’t in your recipe was to leave it sit for a bit longer than five minutes before putting it in refridgerator. I also used a wisk to mix the warm cream as a layer of cream skin was forming on top when it was cooling…any sugestions?? thanks!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Kali – Sorry yours didn’t turn out the way you hoped. Can I ask how you measured the agar-agar — by the teaspoon or by the weight? Also, what is the brand of your agar-agar? I used a brand called “Lima”. One thing I’m thinking is that maybe different brands could have different jelling powers…

  • http://www.cookingschools101.com Chef Tony

    There is nothing like a nice dessert after a nice meal and the Panna Cotta looks amazing. The strawberry topping looks alot like the strawberry jam my grandma used to make a long time ago. I enjoy blueberries to and would love to experiment with different toppings.

    Looking forward to trying this one out.

  • http://log.does-not-exist.org Thomas

    A nice combination; we enjoyed it tonight (we had gotten more fresh strawberries than we expected, so were looking for some good use for them) — quite delicious. For the Panna Cotta, though, we used this version, but without the caramel: http://www.recipesource.com/ethnic/europe/swiss/panna-cotta1.html

    Note that, since it’s 100% cream and no milk, the taste will be somewhat cream-heavier than the version you describe. Also note the Cognac (I actually use Whiskey) as a secret ingredient giving another bit of taste to it.

  • clothilde

    bonjour,
    j’adore la panna cotta, je viens de découvrir ce dessert et je le décline de toutes les façons. (I change for english). I just want to ask why you are heating the strawberries and the sugar before mixing them, is there a difference if you don’t heat them ?
    another question more personal, we share the same first name, clothilde (mine with an H, like mathilde, brunhilde, old teutonic origins ….) but now very frenchy, why is your site all in english ?

  • clothilde

    I forgot to say that your blog is absolutely beautiful, and you have big talent in photography and writing.
    for me it is the best blog about food on the net

  • Felix

    HI,i really did that week a ago and really good to eat , but if got more to have u ll gonna feel greasy

  • Kimberly

    Panna cotta is very common all over Italy. My favorite was in a corny diner near the duomo in Firenze flavored with espresso. Too much cream makes it greasy, I think. What advice for adding non milk materials to the pudding itself?

  • Christian

    I have been thinking of making this, but using rosewater and orange zest as flavorings instead of vanilla, to give it a slightly mideast flair. I’m been trying my hand at creating bowls from half of an orange peel which has been candied and then brushed inside with chocolate. I think this panna cotta would make a lovely dish for the edible bowls.

  • Meg

    simply divine. made it with a twist last nite using green tea instead of vanilla. turned out perfect. thanks for sharing it! i’ve been inspired to do more variations now.

  • Sean

    I live in malaysia and am not sure if the size of gelatin we get here is the same. Can you tell me how big or how heavy is a sheet of gelatin? thank you

    • Levynite

      Just use agar-agar. It’s like 2 times cheaper than gelatine in Malaysia.

  • Angela Dalton

    After reading your recipe, I decided I had to give it a try and I am so glad I did. My husband and I devoured the whole thing in literally two minutes–it was that delicious! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I know I will make it again and again.

  • MaxMillion

    This recipe looks worth trying, but aren’t you supposed to serve it unfettered by a glass container, so that it jiggles in a sexy way when you bring it to the table??

  • aak

    this looked like a nice recipe. But mine came out much too firm. I used NOW agar brand.

  • cinzia

    Good recipe–closest to my nona’s original from Calabria. I used Knox gelatin, 1 oz. box of 4-1/4 oz. packettes, only using one packette. It was perfecto! I, also, used 1/2 amts. of 2% milk and cream. Worked fine, and I didn’t have to go to the store! I added 3T. strong coffee to flavor, and delicioso!

  • http://NA Mai Nguyen

    My first attempt at panna cotta was quite a long time ago; it was a failure because I used some kind of agar agar that didn’t dissolve well (and the receipt was also different). But yours work really well, the sweetness is just right even for someone who is sugar-conscious like me. I’m so going to make many more in the future! Many thanks for sharing.

  • Amarjit

    This was perfection itself! It disappeared from the fridge before it even had a chance to get chilled! It had just the right degree of wobble and no gloopy/lumpy bits, which happened in previous gelatine-free versions I’ve tried. Thanks for sharing such a brilliant recipe.

  • nardine

    This was excellent!

    I was afraid the use of agar-agar will make it a bit too firm. But NO! This was simply delicious.

  • marilee

    I tried this with agar and it was nothing like panna cotta at all, instead it was very firm and the texture was very gritty. I couldn’t figure out why it didn’t work until I read multiple sites and the other comments here that all said agar makes things firmer and less smooth than gelatin does.

    I am going to re-try this using the gelatin version you included in the recipe! :)

  • shivani

    Hello,

    I made this today with Agar Agar, and I wanted to drop a note saying it came out simply perfect. I removed it out of the mould, inverted it and dunked it in strawberry sauce (I used maple Syrup for the sauce instead of sugar.. Mmmmmmm..)
    I also served honey roasted pears along with strawberry panna cotta. It was absolutely delicious. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’m happy to hear it turned out to your liking, Shivani, thanks for writing!

  • julia

    Hello!
    I am planning to make this when I have some free time on my hands… :) Strawberry panna cotta sounds delicious.

    How long will this keep and will it be possible to actually make it for a picnic?

    Thank you :)

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      You can make the panna cotta a day ahead. As for transporting them for a picnic, I’d recommend keeping them in a cooler — they’re dairy, so they do need to be kept at fridge temperature.

  • Linda Pooh

    Hello! I see your panna cotta and thought that it looks real delicious. But is it a need to add in the whipped cream? =)

    Plus, simmering, is it means to bring it to low heat? But how to prevent it from boiling? And when do we know when to remove it from heat? Is it when all the bubbles are gone or what?

    Please help me! Thanks a lot! =)

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      The whipping cream (not whipped) makes the texture richer and creamier. If you were to use only milk, it would feel a little “dry” in the mouth.

      “Bring to a simmer” means heating over medium heat until the surface of the mixture starts to shiver, just before actual bubbles start to form. The recipe instructs you to bring the mixture to that point and remove from heat immediately.

  • Knitten

    Made this today – boyfriend (who will often get panna cotta for dessert at restaurants when it’s offered) said it’s one of the best he’s ever had :) merci :)

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      I’m so glad, Knitten, well done and thank you for reporting back!

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