Oh, you are going to love this rich and creamy chocolate panna cotta. This is a classic Italian dessert that’s nothing more than simmered cream and sugar with a little gelatin to bind it. From there you can easily scale it up with add-ins for different flavors and variations. For the version here I used a port wine pomegranate sauce to cut through the cream and to give the ensemble a fruity and slightly tart profile.
And since most of us are in the throes of holiday madness, I’m continuing with the theme “easy elegance” with this one.
The easy portion of this comes into play with technique and the recipe being nearly a one pot dessert. I say nearly because other than the pot, you’ll just need a bowl filled with water for the gelatin to soften. The elegance can easily be fitted by serving the chocolate panna cotta in stemmed glasses rather than using ramekins and un-molding it.
If you haven’t worked with gelatin before, there’s really nothing to it, especially if you are working with the granules rather than gelatin leaves. If you’ve ever made Jell-o, than you you’ve already worked with gelatin. It’s all about letting it soften (often times referred to as “bloom”) and temperature—too hot and you will break the gelatin, not hot enough and the gelatin won’t set. And very important—too much gelatin and you will end up with a rubbery texture.
See? Easy. So get busy!
Chocolate Panna Cotta
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 envelope plain gelatin (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon Hershey Special Dark Cocoa Powder
- 3 oz. dark chocolate
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
Port Wine Pomegranate Sauce
- 1 cup port wine
- 1/2 cup Pom pomegranate juice
- 2 teaspoons honey
- optional: 1/4 - 1 teaspoon sugar as needed to adjust flavor to personal preference
To make chocolate panna cotta
- Pour 1/2 cup of milk into a bowl. Evenly sprinkle gelatin on top; set aside for two minutes.
- Place the cream, sugar and cocoa powder into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer ( look for small bubbles along the edge of the pan). Add in chocolate, vanilla and salt; stir to combine. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Pour the gelatin mixture into the chocolate mixture and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved (mixture should be free of grit when rubbed between two fingers).
- Pour into stemmed glasses or ramekins. Chill for at least 2 hours or loosely cover and chill overnight.
To make port wine pomegranate sauce
- Add port wine, pomegranate juice and honey into a pan and cook, stirring until the liquid is reduced by half about 3 to 5 minutes. (*Taste and adjust the flavor with a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar until satisfied.)
- Drizzle on top of set chocolate panna cotta at time of serving.
A few notes:
- To evenly soften the gelatin use a bowl that will allow for as much water surface as possible, so that the gelatin can be sprinkled on top of it in an even thin layer.
- To quicken the set time, chill serving vessel before pouring the chocolate panna cotta into it.
- The chocolate panna cotta can be made two days in advance and kept covered and refrigerated.