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Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Sauce

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This luxurious creamy vanilla panna cotta with strawberry sauce is the ultimate classy dessert.  There is a striking contrast between the cream-colored, vanilla custard and the intense red of the fresh strawberry sauce. The flavor combination is undeniably delicious! 

Serving of panna cotta and strawberry sauce

I love panna cotta! It is springtime and fresh strawberries are in season as we write this post but they are available fresh or frozen all year. The seductive silky texture of a panna cotta makes this dessert one of our favorites. The fact that it is a simple recipe and can be prepared in advance adds to the love factor. 

What is Panna Cotta?

Panna cotta is a classic Italian recipe that translates to ‘cooked cream’.  It is simply sweetened, flavored cream, heated; then has gelatin stirred in.  Unlike custards that are cooked and thickened with egg yolks, panna cotta uses gelatin as a thickening agent.  

The luxurious silky texture of panna cotta is especially complimentary to fresh fruit such as this vanilla panna cotta with strawberry sauce. We have also posted a Lavender Panna Cotta with Lemon Syrup and a wonderful Irish version, our buttermilk Panna Cotta with blackberry sauce

Overhead view of a serving of panna cotta in a puddle of strawberry sauce
So good!

This classic dessert has innumerable versions and it is not limited to fruit. Some creative examples of panna cotta are:

  • Chocolate
  • Espresso
  • Matcha
  • Nutella 
  • Rosewater
  • Salted caramel

Ingredients needed for a basic Vanilla Panna Cotta:

  • Gelatin
  • Cream, 36%
  • Whole milk
  • Sugar
  • Salt (just a pinch)
  • Vanilla extract

This is so simple and makes such an elegant dessert that you will be serving it on many occasions. This is all you need for a basic vanilla panna cotta. Let your imagination run wild with different flavorings.

This is what you need to make the Strawberry Sauce:

  • Strawberries
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Half strawberries for garnish

Simple ingredients for a simple, elegant dessert!

How we made our Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Sauce:

This is a very brief ‘How To’ description please scroll to the recipe card for full instructions and notes and tips:

Overhead view of 6 ramekins of vanilla panna cotta

Step 1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top of 1/4 cup of water and let absorb and soften

Step 2. Pour the cream, milk, sugar and a pinch of salt into a small saucepan and heat almost to a boil….but, do not let it actually boil. Remove from the heat source and stir in the vanilla.

Step 3. Zap the soft gelatin in the microwave until warm and syrupy. Then stir into the hot cream mixture. Cover the saucepan and allow to cool to lukewarm. This is an important step, do not skip it, otherwise, you risk the gelatin separating and sinking to the bottom of the custard dish. A layer of clear gelatin is not very appetizing. 

Step 4. When the cream mixture is lukewarm, pour it through a strainer into a spouted container. Straining the mixture will ensure that you have a smooth, silky panna cotta.

Step 5. Pour the strained cream mixture into six small custard dishes, cover and refrigerate for six hours or overnight.

Make the Strawberry Sauce:

  1. Place the prepared strawberries into the bowl of a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth
  2. Transfer the strawberries to a saucepan, add sugar and water. Bring to a boil then cook gently for ten minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  3. Pass the strawberries through a strainer and strain out the strawberry seeds.  
  4. Transfer the strained strawberry sauce into a lidded jar and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

When you are ready to serve this awesome panna cotta it only takes a couple of seconds to dip the custard dishes into warm water; then set a saucer on top and flip the dessert right out. 

Panna cotta serving with spoon and bite, puddle of strawberry sauce

Spoon two or three tablespoons of the strawberry sauce over the top of the dessert letting it flow to a puddle on the dish.    Add half of a strawberry and a bit of mint for garnish.  Serve and Savor the Best dessert ever!

SOME OTHER RECIPES WE ARE SURE YOU WILL LOVE:

  • No Bake Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake: This is the perfect no-bake cheesecake recipe that delivers decadent flavors in every bite without the hassle and time of a traditional cheesecake. With a buttery, graham cracker crust, a delicious strawberry puree, and a rich chocolate ganache, this no-bake chocolate covered strawberry cheesecake is sure to wow your guests.
  • Old-Fashioned Cream Cheese Pound Cake: This classic Old-Fashioned Cream Cheese Pound Cake is surprisingly simple to make and has a distinct buttery taste. The outside crust is crisp, golden and delicious with just a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries: Nothing says “I Love You!” better than homemade chocolate-covered strawberries! Show that someone special how much you care by giving them these hand-dipped strawberries. You can roll them in fancy sprinkles or chopped nuts for a spectacular presentation.

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Panna cotta serving with spoon and bite, puddle of strawberry sauce

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Sauce

Yield: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

This luxurious creamy vanilla panna cotta with strawberry sauce is the ultimate classy dessert. An Italian concoction of sweetened cream and vanilla set with gelatin and topped with a fresh strawberry sauce.

Ingredients

Vanilla Panna Cotta

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (7g or 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of table salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Strawberry Sauce

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 whole fresh strawberries for garnish

Instructions

Make the Panna Cotta:

  1. Lightly oil 6 small 6-oz. custard dishes and set aside.
  2. Add the water to a small microwaveable dish and sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the top.  Allow the gelatin to dissolve and soften while preparing the panna cotta mixture.
  3. Pour the cream and milk into a small saucepan set over medium heat.  Stir in the sugar and the pinch of salt. Stirring continually, bring the mixture almost to the boil.   Do not boil. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla.
  4. Set the dish of softened gelatin into the microwave and zap it for 10 seconds melting it to a syrupy consistency.  Stir the gelatin; then whisk it into the hot cream mixture.  Cover the saucepan and let the cream mixture come to room temperature.
  5. Stir the cooled cream mixture and pour it through a fine mesh strainer set over a pitcher with a spout.  This will stain out any thickened bits of gelatin or cream skin. 
  6. Set the prepared custard dishes on a plate and fill with the cream mixture.  Place a piece of parchment paper over the tops of the custard dishes and transfer to the refrigerator.  Chill for at least 4-6 hours.  Overnight is preferred.  

To make the Strawberry Sauce:

  1. Place the prepared strawberries into the bowl of a food processor or blender and process briefly.  Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and add the sugar and water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.   Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.  
  2. Pour the mixture into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl and strain by pressing the mixture with a silicone spatula or the back of a tablespoon.  Discard the seed solids and transfer the strawberry sauce into a small lidded jar.  Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve the panna cotta.

To Serve:

  1. Dip the custard dishes, one at a time, into a dish of hot tap water for 2-3 seconds.  Loosen the top edge of each dish with the tip of a sharp knife; then invert the plate and dish together, slightly off center of a small plate.  
  2. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the strawberry sauce over the top of the panna cotta, allowing the sauce to flow and puddle on the plate.  Garnish the top with 1/2 of a whole strawberry and serve.

Notes

  • Straining the cooled cream mixture is an optional step, however, it will ensure a smooth, creamy panna cotta.  
  • To prevent the panna cotta from separating, be sure to allow the hot cream mixture to cool to room temperature before pouring into the ramekins and refrigerating.
  • 12-ounces of frozen, thawed strawberries can be substituted for fresh strawberries
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 399Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 92mgSodium: 56mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 1gSugar: 29gProtein: 4g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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John / Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 10th of June 2020

I agree about the texture of panna cotta -- silky and seductive. And its flavor? Swoon! This looks excellent -- thanks.

Pat Nyswonger

Wednesday 10th of June 2020

Thanks, John....it was supposed to be vanilla bean panna cotta with strawberry sauce but alas, no vanilla bean. But it was delicious and I ate more than my share. Thanks for your comments :)

angiesrecipes

Tuesday 9th of June 2020

The colour contrast between red strawberry sauce the dreamy white panna cotta is just so beautiful! Yummy!

Pat Nyswonger

Tuesday 9th of June 2020

Thank you, Angie....Panna Cotta is one of my favorite desserts and it is so versatile! I think this vanilla and strawberry is my favorite! At least for now...:)

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