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This one’s going to be short and sweet, because, hey! It’s Saturday! Ain’t nobody got time for reading long meandering blog posts. There are lawns to mow and trails to hike and friends to brunch with, or maybe just couches to nap on—whatever floats your Saturday boat. No judgment here.
I did want to pop in and share this quick party dessert recipe: Crème Fraîche Panna Cotta. Are you down with panna cotta? It’s a bit like a custard, but instead of being thickened with egg yolks or cornstarch, it uses unflavored gelatin. The gelatin gives it a really clean, pure texture, and lets the flavors of the simple ingredients shine through—in this case, heavy cream, crème fraîche (or sour cream), a bit of sugar, and vanilla bean paste.
This panna cotta is soft and supple, spoon-able like pudding but not cloying or thick. The mix of sweetness and tanginess is echoed in the toppings of balsamic glaze, fresh strawberries, and fresh basil leaves. The best part, though, is that it comes together in 10 minutes, then all it takes is a little chill in the fridge until it’s ready to serve.
Okay, I lied. The BEST best part is that everyone thinks they’re super fancy! I think it’s the name. Panna cotta must be Italian for “I am way better than you and I serve frou-frou desserts to prove it, capice?”
Seriously, though, I served these at our Godiva Girl’s Flight Night Party and everyone loved them. I felt like a character in a 1960’s tv show, deflecting compliments all night: “What, these old things? Oh nonsense, Gladys, they’re so easy to make, I must give you the recipe!” So here you go, Gladyses of the internet: the recipe for the easiest, most impressing-est, mostest tastiest thing you can serve your dinner guests. Capice?
Crème Fraiche Panna Cotta
- 2 tsp unflavored powdered gelatin
- 3 tbsp cold water
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 8 oz crème fraîche, can substitute full-fat sour cream
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste, can substitute vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- Balsamic glaze, or 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar; see Note below
- Fresh strawberries
- Fresh basil leaves
- Whisk together the gelatin and the water in a small bowl. Set it aside to let the gelatin absorb the water, for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the heavy cream and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Whisk together, and place over medium heat until the cream is hot and the sugar is dissolved, but do not allow the cream to boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Microwave the bowl of gelatin for 15 seconds, until it is liquefied. Whisk the gelatin into the cream, then add the crème fraîche, vanilla bean paste, and salt. Whisk until everything is smooth.
- Pour the panna cotta into six 1/2-cup serving bowls. Refrigerate them until chilled and set, at least 2 hours. (Panna cottas can be made several days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. If making in advance, cover the bowls loosely with cling wrap.) Garnish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze, a few sliced strawberries, and a sprinkle of fresh basil.
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
Oh, Wow! Wonderful!
Thanks so much!
I’ve never madee pannacota but I odn’t really know why, because it looks super easy, delish and fancy!! I love fancy desserts that are actually super easy, so I’m trying this as soon as I have time to get myself in the kitchen! I love the topping too 😀
Thanks Conseulo! Definitely give it a try–it’s crazy how simple (and delicious) it is. Especially good with any kind of fruit topping!
I love to watch various cooking shows. They make Panna Cotta’s and it seems like they are hard to make. Thanks for the recipe. Panna Cotta does sound like an impressive dessert.
Cooking shows are lying to you! Mix melted gelatin and cream, chill–boom. Done. Now you’re ready for your own cooking show. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Judy.
Love these! I´m in love with any dessert in a glass or jar or or or.. these are só cute 🙂 I have never made Panna Cotta, but would love to try!
Greetings and hope you have a super week!!
Thanks Johlene! I’d bought these cute little parfait cups a month or two ago and didn’t know what I was going to use them for, but it’s like they were made for wee little servings of panna cotta. Obviously meant to be!
These are beautiful! And I agree, “panna cotta” secretly means “everybody thinks this is super fancy.” haha.
Right? Those Italians and their names! The joke is on them, though, because we know the truth. 🙂
I’ve never actually had panna cotta before. But I’ve heard of it and your description makes it sound heavenly! I must try it, soon!
Thanks Kim–definitely give it a try when you’re crunched for time but want something delicious!
I loveeeeee panna cotta and have never made it. I am too scared I think. But this recipe looks fab!! thanks for sharing. I will give it a go. x
Don’t be scurred! You’ll try it and wonder why everyone makes it out to be such a big deal–and then you’ll make it for guests and they’ll think you’re Martha Stewart! Mwahaha!
I have always made panna cotta with fruit, but this looks wonderful. I can’t wait to give this a try. Oh, and I’ll have to go out and find cute little individual serving cups like yours too!
Thanks Anna! I got mine at Party City–maybe there’s a party store near you that carries something similar?
Panna Cotta is a dessert I have not yet attempted but this recipe looks so delicious, I’ll have to give it a try.
Thanks Nicole–definitely give it a try! You’ll wonder why you haven’t been making panna cotta for years now!
Bahaha, I love your old-timey TV voice.
Panna cotta is one of my favorite things… I don’t have a recipe on my blog for it either, which is outrageous! Putting thinking cap on now, as we speak.
No panna cotta recipe? Invalid! Panna cotta can be the new ice cream this fall. Aaaaand…go!
Ice cream of the fall … love that, too! Everything about your blog is so fun, Liz!
I love panna cotta and any thing that involves créme fraîche and vanilla bean paste gets my vote.
I agree–those are like food’s greatest hits!
Your definition of panna cotta is THE BEST. Thank you for making me laugh! 🙂 Well, if it is that easy and that delicious (it looks fantastic!) then I am so trying it! (I won’t say whether or not I am a Gladys of the internet or not … 🙂
Haha, thanks MF! (Do you like how I just gave you a new nickname without permission? Sure hope so…)
These are such cute little treats and like you said, perfecccccct for a party idea! 😀 Loveeeee it!
I’m not overly fond of Balsamic vinegar, but I’m very partial to Vino Cotto; (also Fig Vino Cotto) would you recommend these as a substitute as I fully intend to try out this recipe, the War Office aka my wife has nagged me for years to make panna cotta? Are Basil leaves really necessary; are they there for decoration or to eat? If for devouring can you suggest a substitute as I’m not particularly fond of eatng raw Basil leaves 🙂
Hi Brian, vino cotto (or fig vinno cotto) would be an excellent addition to this panna cotta! I mean, it’s fine on its own, but I think a little drizzle of that would be awesome. The basil is absolutely optional. We did nibble on the garnish, but it’s not the focus and can easily be omitted. I’d love to hear how it goes after you give them a try!