How to Make Perfect Panna Cotta

The Glasshouse Bistro is incredibly lucky to have such talented staff.

This week we would like to feature a recipe from just one of our staff members: our pastry chef, Amara. 

Amara studied at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France. The course was a total of 9 months, followed by a one year internship at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome. There she worked at their Michelin star restaurant, Pur' by Jean-François Rouquette.

While attending school she was able to travel to different cities and try the many different cuisines Europe has to offer. Rome was one of her favorite stops and she returned quite a  few times to one particular gelato shop across from the Spanish steps. Her other favorite restaurant experience was "the Ritz" in Paris. The steak topped with foie gras, she says, is "unforgettable." 

Back in Alberta, Amara previously worked at Holt’s Café in Edmonton, along with our chef Julia. Through this they have built a strong working relationship wherein they mix Amara's French techniques with Julia’s Polish roots.

Throughout her training, Amara's favorite desserts to make were panna cotta and tiramisu. Although they may seem intimidating, they are actually fairly easy to pull off, even for an at home chef.

Our dessert menu has an "updated" spin on panna cotta because we use mascarpone cheese and top it with chocolate ganache and kirsch cherries.

Below, Amara shares how to make the perfect panna cotta.

How To Make Perfect Panna Cotta

Makes 6 4-ounce puddings

What You Need

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 teaspoons powdered gelatin
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups light or heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

Equipment

  • Six 6-ounce ramekins
  • Paper towels
  • 2-quart saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Large bowl
  • Thin knife

Instructions

Our café manager, Rebecca, digging into one of Amara's amazing panna cottas!

Our café manager, Rebecca, digging into one of Amara's amazing panna cottas!

  1. Lightly grease the ramekins: Spray the ramekins with cooking spray, then use a paper towel to wipe out most of the oil, leaving only a light residue.
  2. Bloom the gelatin: Pour the milk into the saucepan and sprinkle the powdered gelatin evenly over top. Let soften for 5 minutes or until the surface of the milk is wrinkled and the gelatin grains look wet and slightly dissolved.
  3. Dissolve the gelatin over low heat: Set the saucepan over low heat and warm the milk gently, stirring or whisking frequently. The milk should never boil or simmer; if you see steam remove the pot from the stove and let it cool down. The milk should get hot, but not so hot that you can't leave your finger in the pot for a few seconds. The gelatin will dissolve quickly as the milk warms; it melts at body temperature so this step should go quickly.
  4. Check to make sure the gelatin is dissolved: After about 2 minutes of warming, rub a bit of the milk between your fingers to make sure it's smooth. Or dip a spoon in the milk and check the back for distinct grains of gelatin.
  5. Dissolve the sugar: Stir the sugar into the milk and continue warming until it dissolves as well. It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes total to dissolve both the gelatin and sugar. Again, never let the mixture boil.
  6. Whisk in the cream and flavorings: Remove the saucepan from the heat. Whisk in the cream, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
  7. Pour into the ramekins and chill: Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared ramekins and put in the refrigerator to chill. If serving straight from the cups, without unmolding, chill for 1 to 2 hours. If you want to unmold the panna cotta, chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  8. Prepare to unmold: Fill a large bowl partway with warm to hot water. Wipe a dessert plate with a damp paper towel (a damp plate lets you reposition the panna cotta more easily if it doesn't fall in the right spot).
  9. Release the panna cotta edge from the cup: Run a thin knife carefully around the sides of a ramekin. Don't slide the knife all the way into the cup; just release the top edge of the pudding from the edge of the cup. Dip the ramekin in the warm water up to its rim, and hold it there for about 3 seconds.
  10. Unmold on a plate: Invert the ramekin over the plate and shake gently to help the panna cotta fall out, or press gently on one side to help nudge it out. It should fall out on the plate easily. (If it does not, return to the warm water bath in increments of 2 seconds.) Reposition on the plate if desired. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, lightly covered, for up to 5 days. The gelatin gets stronger as it sits, so this will be a bit rubbery by days 4 or 5, but you can mitigate this by letting the panna cotta sit at room temperature for about half an hour before serving.