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I am a relatively new cook and like to make things in my spare time. My wife and I were in a restaurant recently for her birthday where she tried some Panna Cotta. She really liked this dessert and I was curious if there was a way that I could make it at home for her as a surprise? I do not have a lot of equipment if it would require fancy or specialized tools. Additionally, I would like to find a way to keep the cost reasonable and the total steps needed such that it is not too elaborate. Are there lessons learned that you have experienced when making Panna Cotta that I should be aware of? Lastly, what are items that I could pair this with for the rest of a meal?

Thanks in advance for your help with this and I look forward to hearing your ideas.

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closed as not constructive by Aaronut Jan 24 '12 at 23:34

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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Panna cotta requires very few things: milk or cream, sugar, gelatine (sheet gelatine is the best), and something to mould it in. Whether that's a ramekin or a fancy mould or just a bowl doesn't really matter.

It is a blank canvas. I would advise starting simple; add vanilla bean to your cream as it cooks. Or honey. Or crumiel (which is essentially crystallized dehydrated honey). Brown sugar instead of white. Lavender. use basil, omit the sugar, and serve with tomato and mozzarella as a postmodern insalata caprese. Cardamom and cloves.

The sky is the limit.

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I've seen panna cotta recipes with carrageenan as well, although gelatin is much easier to find. –  Aaronut Mar 9 '11 at 15:50
    
Love the idea of a savory panna cotta. I may have to try that. –  yossarian Mar 9 '11 at 18:40
    
Any gelling agent will work. Use the right agent and you can even serve it hot... –  daniel Mar 10 '11 at 2:50
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Panna cotta is a very low cost dessert. It is just gelatinized, sweetened cream, with other items of your choice added (fruit, etc.) There are plenty of good recipes around the internet. There are no specialized tools other than a pot and stove (and ingredients) needed. It is a fairly novice dessert. The trick is to figure out the 'sweet spot' (pardon the pun) of gelatin. Just enough to keep it together, not too much so that it is like rubber.

As for pairings, I have served panna cotta with a multitude of different meals. I find that it doesn't really matter. What tends to matter is the flavorings used with the panna cotta. Nice berries in the summer, etc.

Good luck!

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