Friday, May 1, 2009

More berries, and something to do with them

Strawberry panna cotta (I)

Baking cakes to go with fresh berries is fun and delicious and all, but around the Beyond Ramen household we need more baked goods like we need a hole in the head. And since eating berries with cakes doesn't actually go through very many berries, I still had a couple of baskets in search of a purpose. Of course, I could (and will) just eat them out of hand, but why limit myself to that when I could make another mess in the kitchen?

But what kind of a mess? Not more baked goods--I still have some of those chocolate crinkle cookies and ginger cakes hanging around--and not something terribly sweet. Maybe something that would use up the milk and cream that was waiting patiently in the fridge. And hey, look at that forgotten box of gelatin in the pantry!

Perhaps you've guessed where I'm going with this: panna cotta. The sort of thing that always makes me a little nervous, because texture in these things strikes me as tricky. I'm ace at custard sauce, such as creme anglaise, but the firm custards seem more difficult. Whatever. I had strawberries, gelatin, and dairy, and I was going to give it a go.

All things considered, it turned out pretty well. The surface was a little runny when it came out of the mold, but it was well set on the inside, and jiggled appropriately when wiggled. And it tasted like strawberry ice cream, which is to say very tasty indeed. Recipe below!

This panna cotta is mild and velvety, and goes brilliantly with even more berries. It is not a super firm panna cotta, so if you like it very firm, you might want to increase the amount of gelatin a bit.

Filling ramekins

The start-to-finish time for this recipe is quite long, but only because it takes a while for the panna cotta to do its thing in the fridge. The actual active time is quite short, and the the hardest part is pushing the berry puree through the sieve. It's a pain, and it can seem interminable if you're working with a large amount of puree, but the smoothness of the final product makes it worth the effort.

Strawberry pulpStraining strawberry puree

Strawberry Panna Cotta

Makes 6 servings


  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar, see note
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin (from one envelope)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • additional strawberries for serving


  1. Puree halved strawberries in food processor or blender until smooth. Pour the puree through a fine mesh strainer and, pressing and scraping solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids in the strainer and set aside the strained puree.
  2. Set out six small ramekins or molds.
  3. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, cream, and sugar. Sprinkle the gelatin over the mixture and let stand 10 minutes, or until the gelatin softens.
  4. Set the pan over low heat and whisk the mixture until the sugar and gelatin dissolve and the mixture is warm, but not boiling, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add vanilla extract and strawberry puree and whisk until well combined.
  6. Divide mixture among ramekins and refrigerate, covered and undisturbed, until panna cotta is set, at least 6 hours or (ideally) overnight.
  7. When nearly ready to serve, prepare additional strawberries as desired. I think that some strawberry puree works well, but you could also slice or halve the berries and toss them with sugar and perhaps some sort of flavoring.
  8. Run a paring knife around the edge of each panna cotta to loosen. Dip the bottom of each ramekin into hot water for 10-30 seconds, depending on the thickness and heat capacity of your ramekin or mold. Invert each ramekin onto a serving dish and shake it gently to unmold the panna cotta.
  9. Spoon strawberries or puree over panna cotta and serve.


  • Adjust the amount of sugar to suit the sweetness of your berries. If your berries are very ripe, reduce the sugar accordingly.
  • Panna cotta keeps,, covered and refrigerated in ramekins, for up to two days.

Panna cotta chilling


Bee said...

Anne, that looks absolutely delicious and your pictures are heavenly, too.

Anne said...

Thanks, Bee! :)