Cookbook Profile

Panna Cotta

Makes 6 servings


Panna Cotta Some recipes that I've encountered for panna cotta, or the "cooked cream" of Tuscany and Piedmont, call for heating half of the cream, then cooling it before whipping the remaining cream and folding the two together with softened gelatin and sometimes beaten egg white. To my taste, this creates a texture more akin to a Bavarian cream than to the silky quivering versions of panna cotta I've enjoyed in Italy. This one is reminiscent of the version served at Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco in Florence.


1 envelope (2-1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup whole milk
3 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1/2 cup sugar
Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing
Fresh Berry Sauce
Berries for garnish


In a small bowl, combine the gelatin and milk. Stir well and set aside to soften for about 5 minutes.

In a saucepan, combine the cream and sugar, place over medium heat, and stir frequently until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir in the gelatin mixture and continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and the gelatin is completely dissolved, about 1 minute. Pour into a large glass measuring cup or bowl. Immediately place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Using a pastry brush, lightly grease six 6-ounce custard cups or timbale molds with butter. Pour or spoon the cooled cream mixture into the prepared containers, distributing evenly. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours or for up to 12 hours.

Prepare the Fresh Berry Sauce as directed.

To serve, dip the bottom of a container into a bowl of hot water for about 30 seconds, then run a thin, flexible knife blade around the inside edges of the container. Invert a serving plate over a container, invert the plate and container together, and carefully lift off the container. Repeat with the remaining containers. Spoon the sauce over the tops and garnish with berries.

Buy the Book!


James McNair's Favorites
By James McNair
Chronicle Books, September 1999
Hardback, $25.95
616 pages, 64 color photos
ISBN: 0-8118-0115-2
Recipe reprinted by permission.


James McNair's Favorites



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This page created April 2000