The first time I had panna cotta was in culinary school. We were tasked with making it. I had never even heard of it. I followed what my instructor had shown us and when it was ready I took my first bite. I loved it! It was light and refreshing. It is very similar to a custard but uses no eggs, I was amazed by that. I found it is somewhat of am empty canvas. You can play around with the flavors and really make it taste exactly how you want. I love those type recipes. I am into versatility when it comes to cooking. I enjoy being able to take a recipe and really make it my own. My wife jokes about the fact that I never fully follow a recipe. I always change it up a little until I get it just how we like it. A recipe is not meant to be written in stone, it is a guideline. Take from it what you need and change what you’d like. Baking is a bit different, as you need to keep the ratios the same, but you can play with the flavors.
After making the panna cotta at school I went home and told my wife all about it. I described the texture and flavors in detail. She wanted to try it. The recipe I used at school took over eight hours, so it wouldn’t be dessert that night, but I made it a few nights later. She loved it, too! I didn’t love that it took so long to make, but it was worth it. It was delicious. About a year later I was looking through recipes for some research I was doing and came across one for my dear old friend… panna cotta. Per that recipe it only had to sit for about an hour. That was MUCH faster than the preparation I made before! I set out to try it that night. I was a bit leery as to how it would turn out, but I gave it a try anyway. It was a winner. Just as delicious as what I had made before without the long wait. I have changed the recipe up a bit over the years, and it has become one of our favorite desserts.
Feel free to play around with the flavors a bit. The picture included with this recipe is of a honey lavender version I made. The recipe I am posting is just for a vanilla version so you can just add whichever flavors work for you and the people you are cooking for. If you need tips on how to add your own flavors, just ask!
Gluten Free Vanilla Panna Cotta
3 tsp Gelatin (unflavored)
4 tbsp Cold water
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup Milk (full fat)
1 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
In a small bowl, soak gelatin in water until soft.
In a pan, heat milk, cream, vanilla and sugar. Bring to simmer. Add gelatin and remove pan from heat. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Pour mixture in four ramekins (or small bowls, or even coffee mugs) and let cool. Refrigerate until set, at least one hour.