A DASH of Cooking: Rich Vanilla Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries

A super elegant and decadent dessert that is assembled in 10 minutes and prepares itself it the fridge while appetizers and the main course are prepared.  Makes 6-8 delicious bowls of creamy goodness.

An Elegant Dessert – Panna Cotta

Vanilla panna cotta with cookie crumbles and fresh mixed berries on a table
This looks really fancy but it’s stupid easy to make.

Nearly every restaurant I go to, when I see the dessert menu, I usually skim for a creamy or custardy dessert.  Whether it’s crème brulee, flan, or panna cotta, those rich and creamy desserts were something I couldn’t get at home growing up and normally associated more with a nice dinner out than I would ice cream, cake, or pie.  The funny thing is, all these custardy and creamy desserts are some of the easiest to make and you don’t need to have a world of baking knowhow or anything to whip one up.  This is made on your stovetop and chilled in the refrigerator so an oven is not at all required, also making this a great dessert for when your oven might be preoccupied (with a roast or too many pans that you don’t have storage for otherwise).  This recipe is a fabulous way to impress with little effort and end an evening.   Hope you enjoy this wonderful recipe.

vanilla custard warming on the stove in a saucepan
The custard ready for the gelatin mixture

Rich Vanilla Panna Cotta

Originally based on the Easy Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta recipe from Food & Wine Magazine.


  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste with seeds*
  • 1 packet of geletin or about 2 ½ tsps of powder
  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • Mixed berries for serving
  • Crushed Biscoff, gingersnap, or vanilla wafer cookies for serving

*Available at most specialty grocery stores

preparing gelatin powder in a small glass bowl with water
The gelatin starts dissolving in the water ahead of combining it with the custard mixture.


  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin powder evenly over the 3 tablespoons of water and allow to start…gelling.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla bean paste.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Turn the heat to low, and add the gelatin water mixture, and stir until everything appears dissolved and incorporated. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  3. Carefully pour the mixture into 6 to 8 4-6oz. ramekins and transfer to the refrigerator.
  4. Allow the ramekins to cool for at least 4 hours or until the panna cotta is set but still wobbles a bit when shaken gently.
  5. Serve topped with crushed cookie and fresh berries.  Try to avoid eating two and then go ahead and eat two because why not??
the prepared panna cotta bowls ready to transfer into the refrigerator for cooling
Ready to go in the fridge! In a few hours these will be ready to serve!
Rich vanilla panna cotta topped with crushed cookie crumbles and fresh mixed berries in a blue ceramic bowl on a wood table
Delicious bowls of vanilla goodness with berries! What is not to love!

Want some other rich dessert ideas?

Try these Double Chocolate Toffee Banana Muffins!

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