Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 21st September 2012

Panna Cotta “cooked cream” is a delicate Italian dessert. The eggless custard is traditionally prepared with a combination of milk and cream, and sugar. It’s classically flavoured with vanilla bean and set with gelatine. The origin of the dessert is uncertain but the Piemonte region of Italy (Northern Italy bordering Switzerland and France) has identified the panna cotta as a traditional food product dating back to the early twentieth century. If we can believe the story panna cotta was invented in Langhe (city in Piemonte) by a woman of Hungarian descent.

A photo of two Layered Panna Cotta Desserts with Fresh Berry Compote and Sliced Almonds.

It’s one of the most popular desserts enjoyed across Italy but its popularity has clearly extended beyond the Italian borders often seen on restaurant menus across the world. According to ancient tradition, to add flavour to the panna cotta, it should be paired with caramelized sugar like the crème caramel.

A photo of a Yogurt Panna Cotta layered with Citrus Gelée and topped with fresh Berry Compote and sliced almonds.

Panna Cotta is incredibly easy to make taking no longer than five minutes to prepare but achieving the perfect, slightly wobbly texture can be tricky. Although it can be prepared ahead of time to prevent a rubbery texture it’s best to pay close attention to the amount of gelatine used because as it chills it becomes firmer. Therefore depending on how far in advance you are preparing the dessert it’s best to reduce the amount of gelatine. Also once set it’s best to place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the panna cotta to prevent a thick skin from forming.

A photo of Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta served in dessert glasses pictured with toppings, Berry Compote and toasted sliced almonds.

Another important mention, although panna cotta translates to “cooked cream” the cream/milk mixture should only be heated long enough to dissolve the sugar and at no time should the mixture come to a boil. To get the maximum flavour from the vanilla bean I usually infuse the vanilla bean in the cream/milk mixture for a couple of days prior to preparing the panna cotta.

A photo of Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta layered with Citrus Gelee and topped with fresh Berry Compote served in a dessert glass.

In fact, when I return home from the market I immediately split and seed a vanilla bean and pop it in to the heavy cream container. Every time I reach for my coffee cream I give the container of heavy cream a shake. I have a wonderful vanilla infused cream at my fingertips, perfect for whipping to top desserts as well as for use in desserts.

A photo of three Panna Cotta Parfaits served in dessert glasses placed on dessert plates lined with cloth striped pink napkins.

After watching an episode of Top Chef I was inspired to prepare this dessert. The chef used a sheep’s milk yogurt in his version and I wondered if he was trying to achieve the same consistency worthy of a panna cotta prepared in the Piemonte region. The Piemonte dairy region produces an incredibly thick cream. And although I was anxious to try adding yogurt I wasn’t too keen on using sheep’s milk yogurt. It’s a flavour I’m not partial to. The yogurt brings an impressive freshness while providing a richer, creamier texture.

A photo of Panna Cotta Parfaits served in an assortment of dessert glasses.

The options for flavouring a panna cotta are endless. Pairing the panna cotta with fruit is traditional. Initially I thought overall the pairing of the yogurt panna cotta with citrus gelée may be too tangy but I was pleasantly surprised. The rich, creamy texture cuts through the tartness. The fresh macerated fruit brings sweetness. And the roasted almonds not only provide a contrasting crunch but also a salty kick.

A photo of two Yogurt Panna Cotta with Citrus Gelée desserts served in wine glasses displayed on a slate board with red spoons.

The pairing would make a wonderful option for a dessert menu consisting of a trio of desserts. I would serve this panna cotta in liqueur glasses with a minimum of four if not six alternating layers to ensure each spoonful incorporated some of the creamy panna cotta and tart gelée.

A photo of three Panna Cotta Parfait desserts displayed on black and white dessert dishes line with pink and white striped cloth napkins.

When I entertain my first priority is to ensure that I please my guests and they feel comfortable in my home. I hope you’ll indulge me today by answering a few questions in the comments. When attending a dinner party what is the one thing a host/hostess can do to instantly make you feel comfortable in their home? As a guest would you prefer the option of a single dessert or trio tasting? As the host/hostess, do you prefer serving a single dessert and why? And if you wouldn’t mind sharing, describe your best and worst dinner party experience.

I’m really looking forward to your answers. Have a wonderful weekend!

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Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Basics, Custards, Creams & Mousses, Dolci al Cucchiaio, Dolci alla Frutta, Fillings, Frostings & Dessert Sauces, Fruit Desserts, Mini Desserts, Piccola Pasticceria, Recipes, Ricette di Base, Spoon Desserts

Comments (6)

6 Responses to “Greek Yogurt and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Citrus Gelée”

  1. lyly Says:

    Grace, Beautiful Panna Cotta !!! Wish you have a great week.

  2. Peter stanford Says:

    I am as I write this printing the recipe! I love Greek Yogurt so I know I’m going to adore this!

  3. Grace Says:

    I hope both you and Joann enjoy them Peter.

  4. EC Says:

    Very beautiful…the colours compliment each other.

  5. 100+ Greek Yogurt Recipes - Jeanette's Healthy Living Says:

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