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Panna Cotta is a cold Italian dessert that literally means "cooked cream". Typically Panna Cotta is served with berries, poached fruit, or a chocolate or fruit sauce. If you have some leftover Chianti, or another hearty red wine, you can make a deeply-flavored Red Wine Syrup and spoon it over the top. Panna Cotta demands to be made in advance. You can make them up to two days ahead and keep them well-covered and chilled. See Red Wine Syrup.

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  • 4 cups heavy cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 4 Tablespoons Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
  • 2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 6 tablespoons cold water


Servings 8
Level of difficulty Difficult
Preparation time 60mins
Cost Average budget


Step 1

Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and Frangelico. (If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then re-warm the mixture before continuing.)

Step 2

Lightly oil eight custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 3

Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

Step 4

Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm, which will take at least two hours but I let them stand at least four hours. If you're pressed for time, pour the Panna Cotta mixture into wine goblets so you can serve them in the glasses, without unmolding.


Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and garnish as desired. This is especially good topped with a fresh berry compote.

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