FLORENCE, Italy—The white gelatinous dome drizzled with dark pink raspberry sauce wiggled as our server brought it towards the table.
“Panna cotta?” he asked.
I claimed it and sliced my spoon into the custard-like concoction, ignoring the fact I spent the last 45 minutes consuming bread, house Chianti, fresh bruschetta and lasagna.
The spoonful melted in my mouth. How can this little dome of perfection be so sweet, light, creamy yet rich all at once? The panna cotta was devoured within minutes, a simple and delicate ending to another traditional Italian meal.
Panna cotta translates as cooked cream. No one knows of its exact genesis, except that the dessert began showing up in the northern Italian Langhe region of Piedmont in the early twentieth century. Panna cotta is made like Jell-O, except gelatin and milk is melted into boiled cream and sugar, then cooled into molds in a refrigerator until the liquid sets.
Here is a recipe to try panna cotta at home.
1/3 cup skim milk
1 (0.25 ounce) envelope of unflavored gelatin
2 ½ cups heavy cream
½ cup white sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Pour milk into a small bowl and stir in gelatin powder. Set aside. In a saucepan, stir heavy cream and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a full boil. Watch carefully so the cream does not boil over the sides of the pan. Pour milk and gelatin mixture into the cream, stirring until dissolved. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Pour into six individual ramekin dishes. Cool the ramekins at room temperature. When cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours, preferably overnight before serving. Serve with fresh fruit or sauce, such as raspberries.
Recipe from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/panna-cotta/