Panna cotta is an Italian dessert of sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and molded. The cream may be aromatized with rum, coffee, vanilla or other flavorings.
Properly speaking at the panna cotta the sugar is dissolved in warm cream. The cream may by flavored, either by infusing spices and the like in it, or by adding rum, coffee, vanilla, and so on. Gelatin. It is softened in a cold liquid, then added to warm cream mixture. This is poured into molds and allowed to set. The molds may have caramel in the bottoms, giving a result similar to a crème caramel(that is the classic panna cotta). Although the name means ‘cooked cream’, the ingredients are only warmed enough to dissolve the gelatin and sugar. Panna cotta is often served with a coulis, berries, or a sauce of caramel or chocolate. It may be covered with fruit or with liqueurs.
Panna cotta is not mentioned in Italian cookbooks before the 1960s, yet it is often cited as a traditional dessert of the northern Italian region of Piedmont. One other story says that panna cotta was invented by a Hungarian woman in the Langhe-Langa village (North of Italy) in the early 1900s. Its recipe includes cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, gelatin, rum, and marsala poured into a mold with caramel. Another author considers the traditional flavoring to be peach eau-de-vie, and the traditional presentation not to have sauce or other garnishes. Panna cotta became fashionable in the United States in the 1990s. My recipe is the classic panna cotta with caramel sauce and because now we are in the tart cherry season I garnished with it.
Panna cotta with caramel sauce
For the Milk Chocolate Ganache: 8 ounces heavy cream, 8 ounces chopped milk chocolate
For the Salty Caramel Sauce: 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup sugar, Fleur de sel
For the Panna Cotta: 3/4 cup plus 1 cup milk, 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin, 2 cups heavy cream
Garnishes: whipped cream, peanuts, caramelized popcorn, or fresh fruit
For the ganache: Boil the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour the cream into a bowl over the milk chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted. Pour one ladle of ganache into the bottom of 8 double rocks glasses. Put in the refrigerator and allow to cool while you make the caramel sauce and panna cotta.
For the caramel sauce: Boil the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Put the sugar in a separate saucepan. Add a pinch of fleur de sel to the sugar. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat until it starts to turn a caramel color, 6 to 10 minutes. Slowly add the cream to the dark caramel sauce and whisk together. Allow to cool.
For the panna cotta: Pour 3/4 cup of the milk in a bowl. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the milk. Heat the remaining 1 cup milk and the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a light simmer. Pour the milk and cream mixture over the gelatin mixture and whisk until dissolved. Pour the salty caramel sauce into the mixture, whisking as you pour. Distribute evenly into the double rocks glasses over the ganache. Place in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours. When the panna cotta is chilled, you can garnish with salted peanuts, caramelized popcorn, whipped cream or fruit!