A sweet Italian dream in cream

Tracing its roots to Piedmont, Panna Cotta is a wonderful mix of creamy ingredients and fruits that leaves you asking for more.

Published: 24th March 2013 12:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd March 2013 02:18 PM   |  A+A-


Milk, butter and cream have a universal appeal, whether it was Lord Krishna and his friends who would love to eat butter from the earthen pot or today’s youth who binge on ice cream and desserts. And why only young? We all love our ice cream and milky desserts. Not only desserts, even milk, flavoured refreshing yoghurts and paranthas oozing with white melting butter. While I was in Paris, one chef told me, ‘French cooking is all about cream and butter’, and why not? More the butter or cream tastier your dish. It’s a different story that today we all aspire to be size zero, muscular or lean, but sometimes little indulgence for your taste buds should be allowed.

Few days back I was at a friend’s house for a dinner party. Whenever I go for a dinner, I always look at the dessert buffet table beforehand in order to save a little appetite for the sweet ending. Besides Gajar Halwa and dry almond cake, there was this white creamy dessert topped with strawberry glaze with slivers of almonds.

On asking she told me it was Strawberry Panna Cotta. A dessert made from cooking cream with sugar, milk and gelatine. Later, I searched the Internet to find some interesting facts about this creamy dessert. This dessert has its origin in Piedmont, in the northern part of Italy, but it is popular all over the country. However, the history about the invention of this dish is not known; some stories suggest that it was in northern Italy—a mountainous region—where people used to eat cream with fruits. To make the dessert they would use fish bones. The bones were boiled to extract collagen; this would be used to firm up the mixture. Since sugar was an expensive foreign commodity, they would use fruits to sweeten the dessert. Over the years, this dessert was developed and people started using gelatine and sugar, and of course fruits flavoured with vanilla or different essences and spices.

So let’s not wait more, I know your salivary glands would be tickling by now, so here we go.



Cherry and Almond Panna Cotta Recipe


● 2 cups of heavy cream

● 1 cup half-and-half cream

● ½ cup sugar

● 1 tbsp gelatine

● 2 to 3 tbsp cold water

● 1 tsp almond essence

● ½ cup seedless cherries



1. Stir together the cream, half-and-half, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved in a heavy bottomed pan. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture starts rising rapidly. Turn off the heat and lift the pot for a few seconds.

2. Mix gelatine in cold water in a cup. Allowing it to dissolve completely. Add a large spoon of cooked cream and mix well. Add this to the pot of cooked cream and dissolve. Now mix in almond syrup.

3. Pour the warm cooked cream into a serving dish and chill for at least three hours. Serve this Panna Cotta topped with seed less  cherries.

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