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Mezza Panna Cotta – The Half Panna Cotta

Mar 7, 2017 by Gabriele Corcos

Panna Cotta is that kind of dessert that you would expect in any Italian restaurant, it is a staple, a must, something that screams from the menu: “We are Italians over here!”.

Panna cotta translates to “cooked cream” in English. It is something that Debi and I like to share anytime we have the opportunity (the luxury) of dining out in one of our favorite restaurants. Debi likes it with a garnish of chocolate sauce, I personally prefer a berry reduction with a hint of liquor… this said, I always end up stealing some chocolate sauce from her plate!The traditional recipe calls exclusively for heavy  cream, and the result is a real luscious and rich dessert that can make you feel guilty for days.  However I have very often found myself wishing for a lighter texture… something a bit more elegant and refined.  I substituted half of the heavy cream with whole milk, I lowered the amount of sugar and maintained the amount of gelatin to soften up the finished result. The result is a silky dessert that carries all the flavor of traditional panna cotta but is and feels much lighter on the palate. Because of the altered proportions of ingredients, you cannot mold this Panna Cotta the way it would be done in your favorite Italian restaurant, instead you will have to use a 4oz vessel (either stainless steel or mason jar) to serve your guests.

In this version of the recipe I do infuse my dessert with Lemon peel and Rosemary to produce a nice floral aroma, and I finish it with a Berry-Bourbon jam, BUT…

Try using Orange instead of Lemon and Mint instead of Rosemary, finish with a warm chocolate ganache (mix equal parts of dark chocolate and heavy cream) and all of the sudden you have a whole new dessert in your arsenal!


Panna Cotta

Serves: 6 / Prep Time: 5 mins / Inactive Prep Time: 3 hrs (refrigeration) / Cooking Time: 10 mins

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 3/4  cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Rind of 1/2 Lemon / 1 Sprig of Rosemary (option 1)
  • Rind of 1/2 Orange / 1 Sprig of Mint (Option 2)


Blackberry Reduction

Serves: 6 / Prep Time: 5 minutes / Cooking Time: 5 minutes

  • 3 oz blackberries
  • 2 tbsp of mixed berry jam
  • 3 tbsp brandy or rum

Chocolate Sauce

Serves: 6  / Cooking Time: 5 minutes

  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 3 oz Dark Chocolate 65%


Panna Cotta

1Pour the cream and the milk to a medium size skillet, cut a vanilla bean length-wise and remove it seeds. Add the vanilla beans and the pod to the cream.

2Add the sugar and on a medium flame heat up the mixture, bring almost to a boil and lower the flame to low.

3In about three tablespoons of water dissolve the gelatin, mixing the powder well with a teaspoon, then add to the hot cream.

4Stir well for about a minute, then use a ladle and a strainer to fill the molds.

5Let the Panna Cotta rest for about 15 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

6When ready to serve prepare a small bowl with iced water and dip the metal molds in it, one by one for about 15 seconds each. Flip on a small dessert plate and get ready to garnish it with you favorite sauce or reduction. If the rims of the Panna Cotta appear to be stuck to the rim of the molds you can use a small pairing knife to separate the dessert from the metal.

Blackberry Reduction

1Rinse the blackberries and put them in a cereal bowl. Using a spoon smash the berries to look like a coarse jam.

2In a non stick skillet mix together the berries, the jam and the liquor; heat up on a medium flame until jam and liquor start forming a nice reduction.

3At this point gently shake the skillet in your hand and let the liquor catch fire for a few moments. Do not let the flame go out by itself, that actually means that you burned all the alcohol in the reduction… It is always once to savor the kick of the liquor on the back of your palate when enjoying this dessert.

4When ready to serve, gently dip the molds in hot water and reverse on a dessert plate, dress with a couple of tablespoons of the jam reduction.

Chocolate Sauce

1 Mix Chocolate and cream in a medium size metal bowl.

2 Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a gentle simmer.

3 Gently float the bowl with ingredients on the hot water while mixing with a rubber spatula until chocolate is completely melted and sauce is silky. Once ready, garnish the dessert before it cools off.

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