Still looking for a special dessert to make for your Valentine’s dinner? Then this recipe for Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries just may be the perfect choice!
This recipe originally appeared in the Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook – and Ina Garten wrote that she got her inspiration for this recipe from Mario Batali. With two great chefs having a hand in this recipe…you know it must be delicious!
Panna cotta – which is Italian for ‘cooked cream’ – is actually a very simple dessert to make. This version is made by simmering together cream, sugar and gelatin, and mixing that with vanilla and yogurt – which helps give this panna cotta a very rich taste. The mixture is then cooled until set.
The panna cotta is served with strawberries that have been tossed with balsamic vinegar, a hint of sugar and a little bit of freshly ground black pepper. If you’ve never had strawberries and balsamic vinegar together before – you’re in for a delicious treat! The combination of sweet strawberries and tart, rich balsamic vinegar are surprisingly good together and also a perfect complement to the sweet and creamy panna cotta.
This dessert is truly memorable (not to mention delicious), and the perfect ending for any special meal.
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Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook
For the Panna Cotta
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin powder
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt (non-fat greek yogurt may also be substituted if whole-milk yogurt can’t be found at your market)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean
- ¾ cup sugar
For the Balsamic Strawberries
- 4 pints (8 cups) sliced fresh strawberries
- 5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
- Freshly grated lemon zest, for garnish
To Prepare the Panna Cotta
- In a small bowl, add 3 tablespoons cold water. Sprinkle the gelatin powder on the water, and stir to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to fully dissolve.
- In the meantime, in a medium bowl, whisk together half (1½ cups) of the heavy cream, the yogurt and the vanilla extract – mixing well to combine. Remove the seeds from the vanilla bean (cut the bean lengthwise with a sharp knife and then use the tip of the knife to scrape the seeds out of the bean); add vanilla seeds to the cream mixture.
- In a small pan, heat the other 1½ cups of heavy cream and the sugar over medium heat. When the mixture comes to a simmer, remove from the heat and stir in the dissolved gelatin. Stir until completely dissolved. Add the hot cream-gelatin mixture to the cold cream mixture and mix well.
- Pour the mixture into ramekins or custard cups (or a single, wide flat bowl will also work if you do not have ramekins) and chill until cold. Once the panna cottas are completely chilled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or at least another 6 hours).
To Prepare the Balsamic Strawberries
- Approximately half an hour before serving the panna cotta, in a bowl, combine the sliced strawberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar and black pepper. Let the mixture sit at room temperature to allow the flavors to combine.
- To serve the panna cotta, run the tip of a sharp knife around the custard in the ramekin and dip the bottom in a shallow pan of hot water to loosen the custard from the bottom of the dish. Place a dessert plate tightly over the ramekin and carefully invert the dessert so that the custard comes out of the ramekin. (Shake the ramekin gently if necessary to get the panna cotta out.)
- Serve each panna cotta with the balsamic strawberries and a sprinkling of grated lemon zest on top.
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