Panna cotta flavoured with vanilla and topped with an orange jelly, the simplest of desserts. These are served in small glasses, a mini perfect dessert for a larger dinner party as they can be prepared ahead of time.
Panna cotta flavoured with vanilla and topped with orange jelly is a very simple dessert to prepare, easy for even the most novice cook. It is an Italian dessert made with cream and milk and set with gelatin (panna cotta means “cooked cream” in Italian). A little sugar is added to sweeten the cream, however I find this dessert doesn’t require too much added. I started making Italian panna cotta when my eldest daughter wanted to cook in the kitchen with me. She wanted to make “pudding” however had a severe egg allergy at the time. That’s when the idea came for panna cotta, with no egg this was the perfect dessert to get her started on. It also happens to be quick to prepare so she didn’t loose interest – a must when cooking with young children!
Can panna cotta be made ahead of time?
This dessert is was created with the idea of a larger dinner and drinks party in mind. To successfully host this type of event, it’s essential that some elements can be prepared ahead of time. This is my go-to prep ahead dessert, as if covered it will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days before you need to serve it. To stop a skin from forming on top, place some cling film directly on top of the set dessert.
Can you freeze panna cotta?
Due to having a high dairy content, this dessert freezes really well. Simply allow the dessert to cool and set, before placing in the freezer. When ready to serve remove from the freezer and allow to defrost overnight in the fridge.
Can I make this recipe as a larger dessert?
We have made mini desserts, to show how easy they are to cater for a large party. Made this way they are ideal for a New Year’s drinks party as part of a buffet. Served in these shot glasses they work as individual desserts that guests can help themselves to. However the amount of liquid for this panna cotta recipe also serves 4 as a dessert.
How do you stop panna cotta becoming grainy?
Panna cotta can become grainy, and it’s often due to the addition of too much gelatin. Avoid this by only adding as much gelatin as is required to set the dish. I always recommend reading the instruction on the pack of gelatin beforehand, nobody will thank you for set cream the consistency of rubber! This panna cotta recipe also suggests passing the liquid through a fine sieve before pouring into the glasses. I do this to remove any small lumps or pieces of flavouring, such as pieces of vanilla pod or citrus zest. You want an nice smooth creamy liquid.
What other flavour substitutions can I make?
Panna cotta is basically cooked cream so it’s really simple to add alternative flavourings. Replace the vanilla pod with some finely grated zest of lemon or orange for a citrus twist. Chocolate panna cotta is delicious, melt some dark chocolate in with the cream, and for chocolate orange twist add some orange zest in with the chocolate. Coffee is another great flavouring with this dessert, add strong cold coffee to the cream. With both the chocolate and coffee flavours you will be adding extra liquid so measure again before adding the gelatin. Always read instructions on the gelatin pack to get the right ratio of liquid to gelatin!
Does Panna Cotta contain eggs?
There are no eggs in the recipe, making this a great dessert for anyone suffering from an egg allergy. It is also suitable for coeliacs or anyone following a gluten free diet. For this reason it’s often my go-to dessert when feeding a crowd.
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Additional recipe suggestions:
If you like this recipe then try our Lemon Pannacotta with Raspberry Jelly, our Profiteroles with Chestnut Cream, our Christmas Pavlova, our Vanilla Baked Cheesecake with Mulled Plums, or our Blackberry Parfait.
Mini Vanilla Panna Cotta with Orange Jelly
Vanilla Panna Cotta
- 250 ml double cream
- 250 ml whole milk
- 25 g caster sugar
- 1 vanilla pod
- 3 sheets gelatin
- 300 ml fresh orange juice
- 2 sheets gelatin
Vanilla Panna Cotta
- Pour the double cream and milk into a small saucepan and stir in the sugar. Split the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds. Add both the seeds and the vanilla pod to the saucepan.
- Place the 3 gelatin sheets for the panna cotta into a bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the sheets to soften.
- Meanwhile place the saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer, ensuring the sugar is dissolved. Remove the vanilla pod.
- Squeeze any excess water from the gelatin sheets and place them into the hot milk. Whisk to combine and thoroughly melt the gelatin.
- Pour the milk mixture through a fine sieve into a measuring jug. This will remove any loose pieces of vanilla pod left in the milk and also make the liquid easier to pour.
- Pour the milk mixture evenly between 8 small serving glasses. Allow to cool then cover and set aside in the fridge for at least two hours to set.
- Heat the orange juice up in a saucepan.
- Place the 2 gelatin sheets for the orange jelly into a bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the sheets to soften.
- Once the gelatin is soft place it in the warm orange juice and whisk to combine. Again pour the liquid through a fine sieve into a measuring jug. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Remove the panna cotta from the fridge and gently pour over the orange jelly, ensuring an even amount in each glass. Cover the glasses and place back in the fridge for a further 2 hours to allow the jelly to set.
- When ready to serve remove the panna cotta from the fridge and serve immediately.