A creamy vanilla panna cotta with the most beautiful smoothy espresso syrup! This vanilla panna cotta is great for a date night celebration, or if you’re looking for something a little fancier for your guests! And ps – it’s really easy to make!
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OMG this recipe!!! I feel like I start a lot of posts off that way, but seriously! This recipe is insanely good! It is SO creamy, so light and actually really easy, despite any pre-conceived ideas about making panna cotta!
I used to think of panna cotta as one of those super fancy desserts that only great chefs in fancy restaurants could make. It was never something I attempted to do, until now.
And you know what, I’ll let you in on a little secret! Using gelatine and making this vanilla panna cotta recipe isn’t hard! In fact, it’s one of the easier desserts I’ve made!
I love ‘make and leave’ desserts that you don’t have to worry about. Like ice cream! You know those desserts, that you make in less than 20 minutes, then set aside for the remainder of the day to set until you need them?
Or the type of dessert that you can make the night before, ready for the next evening? Yah, this is one of them and I am in LOVE! Have I convinced you to make this vanilla panna cotta yet?
Panna cotta is an Italian dessert made from a combination of milk, cream, sugar, flavouring, and gelatine. In this case, I use Nielsen-Massey’s pure vanilla bean paste.
This is one of those WOW dishes that you make when you want to impress. It’s a light, elegant dessert, made with simple ingredients, but will definitely impress!
The vanilla taste is heightened by using real vanilla bean paste. I’ve been using Neilsen-Massey vanilla for a long time and love how strong the flavour is. Trust me, investing in vanilla bean paste is a must! It just goes above and beyond regular vanilla extract! Neilsen-Massey products are made using natural ingredients and I really support their ethical and sustainable practices.
To add another wow factor to this vanilla panna cotta recipe, I decided to pair it with a beautiful, light espresso syrup, made using a combination of espresso, brown sugar and just a dash more vanilla bean paste! Adam and I agreed that it was probably one of the best syrups I’ve made! It just adds a little kick to the vanilla in the panna cotta and gives off those post-dinner vibes you want at a chill dinner party.
This recipe would be perfect for a date night dinner when you want to impress, or as a beautiful dessert to the end of a fancy dinner party! Despite what you may think, I promise you, this recipe is easy to follow!
Tips for Making Vanilla Panna Cotta
- The process of putting the gelatine on water is called ‘blooming’. This helps it dissolve quickly in the hot water.
- To dissolve the gelatine, simply warm the cup of gelatin in a saucepan of hot water.The hot water should reach about halfway up the cup. Do not get the boiling water in the cup.
- Gently stir the gelatine until it has been heated up and is dissolved. It shouldn’t be grainy at all.
Warming the cream, milk, and sugar
- You want to bring the cream, milk, and sugar to heat slowly to avoid burning and curdling the milk.
- This process took around 10-12 minutes.
- As you bring it to temp, continue stirring it to avoid burning.
- You will bring it to just a simmer, not a boil. There should be just a few bubbles appearing on the surface, then you know it’s ready.
Adding the gelatine and vanilla bean paste
- When you add the gelatine mixture and paste, use a whisk to break up any gelatin lumps.
- Very gently whisk to avoid too many bubbles, this should only take a few minutes.
- To speed up the cooling process and minimise separation, sit your pot of milk mixture into a bowl of cold water before pouring into ramekins. Once again, avoid getting water into the milk mixture.
- I used a 4″ wide by 2.5″ deep (10cm/5cm) ramekin and decided to turn it out onto a plate.
- If you are turning out your panna cotta, very lightly spray the ramekins with an oil spray (light vegetable or canola oil). Wipe out excess oil with a paper towel.
- To turn out, get a knife and gently loosen the sides, then flip onto a serving plate
- Cover with foil and set in the fridge, for about 6 hours or overnight. The vanilla panna cotta should be firm around the edges, with a slight wobble in the middle.
- If you did not want to turn out your panna cotta, they look gorgeous made in a little mason jar!
Our vanilla panna cotta is creamy, not overly sweet, light, fresh and can be made the night ahead for a special occasion or dinner party!
Paired with this dreamy espresso syrup, or summer fruits like strawberries, blueberries or any stone fruit, it really is the most delicious spring and summer dessert!
Georgie x x
Vanilla Panna Cotta
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2.5 tbsp cold water
- 1.5 tsp gelatin powder
- 2 tsp pure vanilla bean paste
- 1/4 cup espresso
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Sprinkle gelatin powder over cold water in a heat-proof, ceramic mug and let stand for 5 minutes. This is called 'blooming'.
- Place some hot water in a saucepan, and place the cup in the pot. The water should come up about halfway on the mug.
- Gently stir the gelatin mixture to dissolve the gelatin. The gelatin should not be grainy and should turn clear.
- Add cream, milk and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat gently over low to medium heat for 10-12 minutes, until it just starts to simmer, not boiling. Stir occasionally as it starts to heat, and more frequently as it gets closer to temperature.
- Remove from heat, and set aside.
- Add gelatin and vanilla to milk, cream and sugar and gently whisk to ensure gelatin has dissolved completely and vanilla bean paste is combined.
- Cool the mixture by placing the saucepan in a large bowl of cold water to reduce the temperature quickly. This will minimise separation in the final product.
- Lightly spray two oven-proof ramekins with cooking spray, wiping out excess spray with paper towel. Pour the mixture into the ramekin and set aside to cool for 10 minutes before covering with foil and transferring to the fridge.
- Leave in the fridge for at least 6 hours before serving.
- Heat espresso, brown sugar and vanilla bean paste over medium heat until sugar has dissolved.
- Bring up to medium heat and simmer 8-10 minutes, or until sauce thickens.
- Set aside to cool completely.
- Gently slide a knife around the edges of the panna cotta to loosen, and flip onto a serving plate.
- Drizzle over espresso syrup and serve. Optional - serve with fresh strawberries and a sprig of mint.
This post originally appeared on the blog in 2016 and has since been updated with new instructions and ingredients to be made better for you!
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I’m not entirely sure when we went from being a tiny floofer to a big ass grown dog that weighs over 70lbs/35kg! But that face though!