For one of my anniversary desserts at restaurant 2941, we had an Italian panna cotta with a concord grape gelee (jelly). It was smooth and creamy and the flavors were so unique that I decided I would have to try to make this recipe. Panna cotta means cooked cream in Italian and when eaten alone, it reminds me of custard or flan. The restaurant served this dish with a biscotti which was perfect because it added some texture and crunch to the smoothness of the jelly and custard. The recipe I found has been adapted from Gourmet magazine and it turned out extremely tasty and quite similar to the panna cotta I had at the restaurant.
This panna cotta recipe called for 2 tbsp of Grappa. Grappa is an Italian alcohol that is distilled from grape skins and seeds that are leftover after the juice has been removed for wine. It sounds delicious right? Wrong! Grappa is one of the worst and most potent things I’ve ever tasted; the only reason I have a bottle of it is because I brought one back from Italy when I studied abroad back in 2004. It tastes the same way it did 6 years ago…awful. Grappa is a digestivo or digestive and many Italians sip on this after dinner because it aids in digestion. I was quite surprised that this recipe called for it, but I’ve never used it to cook before, so I decided to give it a try. To my surprise, the grappa ended up giving the panna cotta a very pleasant and unique flavor! You definitely do not need to go out and buy a bottle of grappa, but if you happen to have one stowed away in the back of your liquor cabinet, then definitely bring it out for this recipe. You can also use vanilla extract, almond extract, Sambucca (anise flavor) or Frangelico (hazelnut flavor). I sprinkled crushed almonds on top of my panna cotta to add some crunch; biscotti or even crumbled amaretti cookies would be delicious as well. Hope you enjoy this recipe!
- 1 tsp unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz envelope)
- 1 cup Concord grape juice
- 1/2 cup Concord grapes
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Vegetable oil or spray for greasing ramekins
Panna cotta Ingredients:
- 2 tsp unflavored gelatin (from another 1/4-oz envelope)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 cups low-fat plain yogurt
- 2 tbsp Grappa (optional)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Crushed almonds, biscotti, or crumbled amaretti cookies for sprinkling
- Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup grape juice in a 1-quart heavy saucepan and let stand 1 minute to soften.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and stir in remaining 3/4 cup grape juice with lemon juice, grapes, and grappa.
- Lightly oil or spray ramekins and put in a shallow baking pan. Divide grape mixture among ramekins and chill in freezer until just set, about 30 minutes.
Panna cotta Directions (Make while gelée sets):
- Stir together gelatin and 1/4 cup cream in cleaned 1-quart heavy saucepan and let stand 1 minute to soften.
- Bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
- Add remaining 3/4 cup cream with brown sugar and return to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
- Whisk together yogurt, grappa, and salt until smooth in a large measuring cup, then pour in cream mixture and whisk until combined well.
- Pour mixture into ramekins (over set gelée) and chill in refrigerator, covered, until firm, at least 8 hours.
- To unmold, run a thin sharp knife along edge of each ramekin to loosen, then dip in a small bowl of very warm water 6 seconds. Invert a plate over each ramekin and then invert panna cotta with gelée onto plates, gently lifting off ramekins.
- Top panna cotta with almonds for added crunch. Biscotti or amaretti cookies are also good served with this as well.