These Champagne Panna Cotta are made with a silky vanilla panna cotta bottom, topped with a sweet champagne gelee. The berries and bubbly on top are optional but add pizzaz!
Say hello to my new obsession: Making panna cotta. My brain has always associated this dessert with the word “fancy”, and it just automatically made the connection to “complicated” and “most probably meticulous to make”. I filed it away to the back of my mind and made other more common, but more exceedingly difficult things, like croissants. Or even yeast bread, for crying out loud!
I never realized making panna cotta was this easy. It’s so RIDICULOUSLY easy in fact, I still can’t get over why it took me THIS long to attempt it. You literally need one skill, which is stirring. You will do a lot of it with panna cotta. Oh, and you also need another thing, which is patience. So that’s two basic life skills!
Because it takes me forever to write articles on this blog lol, I have already made several other panna cotta recipes between the time I made these Champagne Panna Cotta to posting time. In all those attempts, I have managed to study what techniques work best for me to create the smoothest panna cotta. While none of those techniques will be reflected in the video I will be sharing below just yet, but I will write down some tips below.
These Champagne Panna Cotta are so impressively pretty, and so impressively delicious, not even a panna cotta noob can mess them up! Take it from me. I was literally that person for a minute there.
I don’t know why I decided to make such a unique panna cotta on my first try, but I would have to say the success of these beauties have really sparked this newfound love of mine. It is now a requirement to have whole milk in my pantry and heavy cream in my fridge so I can make panna cotta any moment I feel like it.
Imagine, I’ve been going along this dessert-making journey for years and it never occurred to me to make panna cotta for some reason. Which is why this feels like such a eureka moment! So glad I ran across this gen from Indulge with Mimi‘s blog!
By definition, panna cotta literally means ‘cooked cream’ in Italian. Therefore, it’s important that you use good-quality cream with a high fat content to yield the best panna cotta. Usually, heavy cream is used for panna cotta. In supermarkets, it will be labeled ‘heavy whipping cream’, with around 32% to 35% fat content. It’s usually over Php 300 per 1000 mL.
Despite the fat content and the name, heavy cream actually makes some amazingly smooth and light panna cotta. I use Arla Heavy Whipping Cream and find it’s a good one. It’s not as expensive as Anchor, though Anchor is known as one of the best.
For this Champagne Panna Cotta recipe, half and half is used. It’s basically just a mixture of milk and heavy cream, and I highly recommend you purchase heavy cream and full cream milk to DIY your half and half instead of buying actual half and half. (Instructions found below.) Most most other panna cotta recipes use a combination of heavy cream and milk anyway.
For panna cotta, you always prepare your gelatin and your cream separately. I like using powdered gelatin for convenience. I dissolve it in liquid and let it bloom or absorb the liquid, then in a separate saucepan I heat up my cream and milk and sugar. You want to heat it just until barely simmering, NEVER boiling. That’s the basic formula, really.
Once your milk is hot, you can add your bloomed gelatin and stir to dissolve. I recommend using a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula to stir. It does a better job than a whisk, and also creates less air bubbles. I like to let my mixture cool before straining into serving cups and refrigerating. It will take at least 4 hours to set the panna cotta, but I like to freeze mine between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how thick the panna cotta is.
Proceed with the next step once the vanilla panna cotta is set. For this fancy recipe, we also get to make champagne gelee, or jelly. It adds a visual spark and also a sweet bubbly flavor to the panna cotta.
It’s the same process, but you use champagne instead of milk. You scoop out some champagne into a bowl and dissolve the gelatin powder in it. Let it bloom, then incorporate it to the main mixture of hot champagne and sugar. Let cool to room temperature, or until just barely warm to the touch. Pouring it in just a bit warm will help the gelee stick to the panna cotta layer once set, but a very hot mixture will just melt that panna cotta underneath.
And that’s it! Now for a final spell in the fridge or freezer for the final set, and you’re ready to eat!
This part is optional but fun. You can add a dollop of whipped cream to the panna cotta and then some berries on top before serving, or you can push it a bit further and add berries plus actual champagne. The gelee and champagne looks like one entire layer, and the diner will be surprised that there’s a gelee layer in there.
I don’t have any photos of the panna cotta being scooped and eaten because I took the photos for the finished product literally during dinner time, and I completely forgot. I was so pleased with the results to the point where I was overly excited about serving the Champagne Panna Cotta. No one even remembered to clink glasses and immediately proceeded to devour these after a moment of admiring those white and gold layers!
Champagne Panna Cotta
Serves 5 to 8, depending on size of serving glass
For the Vanilla Panna Cotta
- ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons, 140 mL half and half*
- ½ cup + 6 Tablespoons, 170 mL heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 5 ½ teaspoons 22 grams granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the champagne jelly
- 1 cup 250 mL champagne (I used Martini Asti)
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 2 teaspoons 8 grams granulated sugar
- Fresh berries, to top
- Champagne, to top
Make the panna cotta
- In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tablespoons half and half with the gelatin and stir to dissolve. Let bloom for 5 to 10 minutes.
- In a saucepan, pour in the rest of the half and half, then add in the sugar and salt. Set over low heat and stir gently to combine. Heat the mixture until barely simmering. Do not let the mixture come to a boil! Add in the heavy cream and stir until fully incorporated.
- Remove from heat and add in the bloomed gelatin, mixing until fully dissolved. Mix in vanilla extract and let cool to room temperature, gently stirring every once in a while.
- Strain into a spouted glass and divide the mixture among the serving glasses. Give the mixture a little stir before putting in the fridge to chill, at least 4 hours.
Make the jelly
- Place 2 Tablespoons champagne in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top. Stir to dissolve and let bloom for 5 to 10 minutes.
- In a small saucepan over low heat, mix together the rest of the champagne with the sugar. Stir to dissolve and mixture is hot but not simmering. Remove from heat and add in bloomed gelatin, mixing to dissolve. Leave the mixture to cool to room temperature.
- Once cool, give the mixture a stir before dividing on top of the set vanilla panna cotta. Refrigerate another 4 hours to set the champagne jelly.
- Place a couple of berries on top of the set champagne jelly then pour in just enough champagne to cover the berries. The real champagne will look like an extension of the champagne jelly, with the illusion of berries floating in the center.