Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Summer Berries

July 10, 2014 • Alaska Eats, Desserts, Recipes, Seasons, Summer

“I like it silky and when it jiggles just so.” –Kim Sunée, A Mouthful of Stars

And jiggle just so it does.

I had bookmarked this recipe to be one of the first I tried when I received my copy of A Mouthful of Stars. Then, when the Fourth of July rolled around and I was imagining a dessert to serve for our guests, I immediately thought of this. Pure, remarkably delicate white panna cotta with flecks of vanilla bean topped with fresh summer berries in shades of red and blue.


Dessert for eight was a smashing success, as I knew it would be, because one can never go wrong with Kim Sunée – a lesson that has been a joy to learn through both food and friendship. My out of town visitors from Arizona had never tried panna cotta. They sat marveling at the texture – how it’s impossibly rich and light at once – creamy and cool and dancing on the plate with every slight movement of the table. When all the panna cotta was gone, some of us unceremoniously brushed our fingers across the plate trying to pick up the very last drops of sugared berries and vanilla-scented cream.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Summer Berries

Delicate, creamy panna cotta topped with ripe seasonal berries. Adapted from [Kim Sunée|], from her cookbook [A Mouthful of Stars|].

Yields: 8 servings

  • For the Panna Cotta:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 ½ cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • For topping (optional):
  • 1 cup fresh seasonal berries
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar, to taste
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Place 8 ramekins on a tray or baking sheet. Lightly grease the ramekins with neutral-flavored oil.

To a small bowl, pour ½ cup of the milk. Sprinkle the gelatin over top of the milk and allow the gelatin to dissolve, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the remaining ½ cup milk, cream, and sugar. Scrape the caviar from the vanilla bean into the pan and add the vanilla bean pod to the pot as well. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the gelatin/milk mixture and bring back up to a simmer, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Strain the mixture with a fine mesh sieve, removing the vanilla bean pod and any lumps from the gelatin. Pour the strained mixture evenly into the 8 ramekins. Transfer the ramekins to the refrigerator and chill until set, 4-6 hours.

To a bowl, add the fresh seasonal berries, sugar to taste, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Stir to combine.

To unmold the panna cotta, run a sharp knife carefully around the edge of each ramekin and gently turn them out onto individual serving plates (I found it helped to hold the ramekin at a slight angle above the plate, rather than completely inverted). Top each panna cotta gently with fresh seasonal berries. *The panna cotta can also be served in the ramekins, topped with fresh berries, if you'd prefer to skip the unmolding step.