Panna Cotta con salsa ai Frutti di Bosco

Panna Cotta „Panna cotta“, just saying these words bring the Italian atmosphere to the room. Literal translation of panna cotta is „cooked cream“, but let's just admit that saying „ ...and as a dessert we are serving cooked cream with...

Panna Cotta
Panna Cotta

„Panna cotta“, just saying these words bring the Italian atmosphere to the room. Literal translation of panna cotta is „cooked cream“, but let's just admit that saying „ ...and as a dessert we are serving cooked cream with forest fruit“ doesn´t sound as good as „ ....and as a dessert we are serving panna cotta con salsa ai frutti di bosco“.

I like to make kind of „international comparison“ of dishes, looking for a substitute of dishes connected with certain country, in other national cuisines. Panna cotta has its siblings all around Europe. French crème brulée, German Bavarian cream or flan with arguable origin between Spain and Italy.

Panna Cotta served in a wine glass
Panna Cotta served in a wine glass

This fairly old recipe is originated in the northern Italy, to be more precise in the region of Piedmont that you may know for the wines like Barolo or Barbaresco. Formerly it was thickened with eggs cooking over the stove, as today´s pastry creams, however, as the gelatin became more popular (about 1800) together with refrigeration, the eggs were replaced by gelatin and long cooking time is no more necessary. The cream mixture is brought to the boil, simmering for a while so that the flavors of vanilla could develop and sugar dissolves easily. After this modern transformation it has become super-easy to prepare a tasty panna cotta just in few minutes and adopt it to your or your guests´ taste preferences or actual content of your fridge. My favorite one is the combination with forest fruit, there is a nice contrast of sweet vanilla panna cotta and sour fruits.

There is also a large variety of serving methods. You can go for elegant or more casual way of serving depending on occasion. The so called „safe way“ is keeping your panna cotta in recipient, that can be a wine glass but you can also give your dessert a "village look" using a nice jar from marmalade. The ordinary serving method is reversing hardened panna cotta on a plate and drizzling with sauce afterwards. This may cause some ruptures on the surface, but be cheeky, take advantage of your topping and hide any disproportions. Here you go, your panna cotta è PRONTO!

Panna Cotta con salsa ai Frutti di Bosco


  • 200 ml heavy cream
  • 300 ml milk
  • ½ vanilla burbon
  • 2 teaspoons of gelatin
  • 60g granulated sugar /vanilla sugar
  • Butter
  • 250g Forest fruit (can be frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons Maple syrup



  1. Let the gelatin melt in 3 spoons of cold milk.
  2. Butter the forms of your choice so that the panna cotta won’t stick to them.
  3. In a pot mix cream, sugar and the rest of milk. Cut the half of vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape the seeds out straight into the pot with milk, finally add the outer part of pods and bring to boil over medium heat.
  4. Add the gelatin mixture into the cream and simmer for another 2 minutes over medium heat.
  5. Pour the mixture into the forms let cool, cover and put into a fridge for at least 4 hours (or overnight).
  6. Before serving heat the forest fruit on a pan with an appropriate amount of maple syrup.
  7. Pour the fruit sauce over panna cotta and serve.

Vanilla - vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron - it is cultivated mostly in central America and islands of Indian ocean like Madagascar where also originates the most common variety Bourbon vanilla - to use a vanilla pod effectively: scrape out the seed with the back side of the knife blade, not the sharp edge - to get the most flavor from your vanilla pod, use not only the seeds but also the pod, for example when simmering, simmer both seeds and pod, straining the liquid after cooking process

Strawberries, chocolate and vanilla
Strawberries, chocolate and vanilla

A closer look at : Gelatine

- gelatine has an indefinite shelf-life as long as it is not opened, storing in a dark, cool and dry surrounding - by bringing gelatin to a full boil you risk losing its setting properties - in my recipe of Tikka masala I was talking about fruits like pineapple, kiwi or papaya, containing natual enzyme (bromelain), that breaks the collagen tissue in meat. The collagen present in bones is what brings the gelatinous properties to gelatine. Avoid adding fresh pineapple, kiwi, papaya or also ginger to you gelantine as you may easily end up with unsetted result - too much sugar can inhibit gelatinization (applies analogically to freezing e.g. ice cream) The more sugar in the recipe, the softer the resultant gelatin will be. Types of gelatine

  • To meet different diet restrictions there are several types of gelatine present on a market
  • For example Muslim halal and Jewish kosher customs require products with no pork content, eating just the dishes prepared from animals slaghtered ritually. Hindus, on the other hand, are generally vegeterians, anyways, beef products are strictly excluded from their diet as they consider cows sacred. Special diet includes also vegetarians and vegans.
  • Agar (Japanese gelatin) is a dried red seaweed, sold as a powder or in stripes. Agas, however, has stronger setting properties than gelatin so it serves as a substitute in smaller volumes. Contains 80% of fiber and so is becoming more and more popular in diet regimes.
  • Pectin occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables. It has gelling and thickening properties and serves as a food stabilizer. It is also an ingredient in gelling sugar (jam sugar)
  • Isinglass is a type of gelatin extracted from the air bladders of certain fish, used before the invetion of gelatine, nowadays is very rare
  • Carrageen (Irish moss), is a gelatinous thickening agent derived from seaweed which grows off the coast of Ireland. There is still a lot of debates on the effects of carrageen on human body. Europe prohibits the use of carrageenan in infant and organic food for precautionary reasons.