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Vanilla Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries

Unpretentious and insanely good — that’s the only way to describe the classic Italian dessert, panna cotta. And also smooth, and definitely creamy. And did I forget versatile and impressive, yet so easy it takes about 15 minutes to make (not counting time in the fridge)?
True panna cotta is an indulgent, silky affair made with only gelatin, sugar, milk and cream. Traditionally served with fruit coulis, panna cotta is naturally gluten-free and almost sexy — if a molded pudding can be described as such.
It’s subtly sweet, almost demure; this is not one of those sugar bomb desserts that make your teeth tingle — think Sophia Loren not Kim Kardashian — and the balsamic strawberries give it a sophisticated twang.
The cream is a must; but yogurt, buttermilk or fruit puree is often used in place of the milk.  Make this basic vanilla version first — it’s perfect for a Valentine’s dinner — and then experiment with other flavor combinations like pineapple with coconut milk or funky Earl Grey panna cotta.

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
This Vanilla Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries inspired by Ina Garten is an indulgent, creamy, sophisticated delight.
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cold water
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
  • ⅓ cup sugar
For the Balsamic Strawberries
  • 4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water, stir and let rest for 10 minutes to dissolve.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together ¾ cup of the cream, yogurt, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining ¾ cup of cream with ⅓ cup sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir the gelatin into the hot cream to dissolve completely.
  5. Pour the hot mixture into the cold mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Pour into 4 (6 ounce) ramekins and refrigerate until cold.
  7. When thoroughly chilled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Balsamic Strawberries
  1. Combine strawberries, vinegar, sugar and black pepper.
  2. Leave at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving
To Serve
  1. Let the panna cotta stand at room temperature for fifteen minutes.
  2. Run a thin flexible knife or spatula around the inside of the cup.
  3. Invert onto plate and serve with strawberries.
If panna cotta does not come out of the mold immediately, dip the bottom of the ramekin into a bowl of hot water, then try again.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1

What’s your favorite indulgence? —Karen

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