In the world of desserts, few are as sophisticated yet simple to make as panna cotta. Translated, panna cotta means cooked cream and is the perfect accent for summer fruit. While the quivering dessert looks daunting to make, the ingredient list is short, and the effort minimal compared with other endeavors like baking and icing a cake.
While the most basic version is a mixture of cream and gelatin, the possible variations are endless. Panna cotta can be flavored with anything from fruit to tea and I’ve even seen a recipe including peanut butter. You can fool around with the toppings too. Add fruits, sauces or syrups to accent the jello-like dessert or sprinkle on granola, nuts or crumbled cookies for added texture.
Panna cotta is often served inverted on a plate but even the presentation of the dessert can vary. The simplest option is to serve and eat it straight out a ramekin. If you’re really looking to impress on presentation though, use wine glasses for serving or chill it in layers like a parfait. Having a cocktail party? Serve panna cotta shot glasses with small spoons; guests will love it. I prefer to simply invert the dessert on a plate, drizzle on some sauce and serve it topped with fruit.
My panna cotta recipe is the perfect summer dessert. The combination of corn and berries is fairly classic and there’s a hint of woody and floral notes detectable from the addition of rosemary. The recipe is slightly more laborious than the most basic panna cotta recipe, but the resultant sweet corn flavor is pure magic. It’s important to note that the sugar content in corn can vary. The 1/4 cup of honey I used for the recipe was used in conjunction with fairly sweet corn. I recommend that you add a little at a time, stirring and tasting for a level of sweetness you desire. The same process holds true for the blackberry sauce.
The dessert should be made at least four hours in advance but can be left to set for 24 hours. Keep in mind that with time evaporation takes place and the panna cotta will become firmer and eventually rubbery. Ideally the dessert would be made in the morning and served later the same day.
So if you’ve ever had panna cotta but been intimated to make this wiggly and jiggly dessert, fear not. Your only regret will be that it took you this long to make it.
Sweet Corn Panna Cotta
- 3 ears sweet corn, silk and husk removed
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup half and half
- ¼ cup honey
- 3 sprigs rosemary (hit multiple times with the back of knife to release flavor)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 package (0.25 ounces) powdered gelatin
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 ounces blackberries
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Cut the corn kernels from the cob and transfer to a blender. Set the cobs aside. Puree the corn on high until liquified, about 30 seconds. Run the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and discard and pulp.
- Combine 1 cup of the corn puree, the reserved corn cobs, heavy cream, half and half, honey, rosemary and salt in a large saucepan and heat slowly over low heat,stirring occasionally. Once the mixture just begins to simmer turn off the heat and let it steep for 10 minutes.
- Add the water and gelatin to a small saucepan. After the gelatin has hydrated for a minute heat the mixture on medium heat, stirring until the gelatin dissolves.
- Add the gelatin and vanilla to the corn mixture stirring to combine. Strain the mixture again and divide the liquid evenly between six 1 cup ramekins.
- Refrigerate the panna cotta for at least 4 hours or up to 24.
- With a thin knife cut around the edges of the ramekin dish. Invert it onto a plate and pull the ramekin off. Garnish the panna cotta with blackberry sauce (see below) and fresh blackberries.
- Combine 6 ounces of berries, water and honey in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce to simmer for 5 minutes. Puree the sauce in a blender and then pass it trough a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Allow the sauce to cool. Serve the sauce and the remaining fresh blackberries with the panna cotta.