Panna cotta, one of the most loved dessert

Let’s discover together the Italian pudding, obtained by combining cream and sugar. And yes, the cream is cooked, hence the name “cotta”.

Panna cotta is a traditional Italian dessert similar to pudding. This dessert is original of the Piedmont region, precisely from Langhe area. It is made by combining cream and sugar, flavouring them with the seeds of a vanilla bean and adding isinglass to firm them up once placed in the fridge. It is a dessert loved all over the world because of the simplicity of its preparation, its delicate taste and the elegant way in which it is laid out, making it a perfect dessert. Panna cotta is an ideal spoon dessert for every season thanks to the infinite varieties of matching sauces: caramel, melted chocolate, or sauces prepared with fresh seasonal fruit.


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Un post condiviso da Dan Whalan (@justlikenonna)

A bit of history

The origins of this dessert are uncertain: recipe books say it is a traditional Piedmontese dessert, whose date of birth dates back to the early 1900s where it was allegedly cooked for the first time by a Hungarian lady in the Langhe. The first evidence of its existence dates back to the 1960s, when Ettore Songia, star chef at the Cuneo restaurant “I tre citroni”, was the first to put the recipe as we know it today on the menu. In northern Europe, on the other hand, recipe books attribute much older origins to it, dating back as far as the Middle Ages. In some European countries you can find preparations very similar to our Piedmontese dessert: in Denmark the Moos hwit, in Hungary the Krémes and in France the Blanc Manger.

Pudding or Panna Cotta?

Panna cotta is a dessert made with milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and isinglass (or egg whites). The original recipe does not use gelatine, so there is no isinglass, but given the popularity of this ingredient, a version of panna cotta with gelatine is also commonly accepted. Pudding, on the other hand, is a dessert made with milk, egg yolks (absent in the preparation of panna cotta), sugar and, usually, corn starch.


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The traditional recipe

  • 500 ml fresh liquid cream
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 8 isinglass
  • 80 g sugar

To prepare panna cotta, fist of all, put the isinglass into cold water for 10-15 minutes. Cut the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife. Meanwhile, put in a pot the fresh liquid cream and add sugar, the vanilla seeds, and the vanilla pod. Heat everything over a low heat, but without boiling, so when the cream comes nearly to boil, turn off the heat and remove the pod with tongs. When the gelatine has softened, drain it (without squeezing it excessively), and put it into the saucepan with the hot cream. Stir with a wooden spoon or hand whisk until the gelatine has completely dissolved. Now take 4 moulds with a capacity of 150 ml and pour in the panna cotta with a ladle. Once the moulds are filled, leave the panna cotta to set in the fridge for at least 5 hours. Once hardened, dip each mould in boiling water for a few moments before serving and to demould better. then turn the panna cotta out immediately onto each plate. You can serve your panna cotta nature, with caramel, with melted chocolate or with a fruit coulis.


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Cover photo by Insatiable Munchies, CC BY 2.0, from Wikimedia Commons