Panna Cotta

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

I started preserving food about five years ago at the request of my editor, who wanted a series on jams and pickles. It turned out to be a bit of (well, really a major) obsession for me, as I realized once again this past week. It was hot and extremely humid — and I was just about to make hotter. With my hair soaking wet, and a cloth to wipe my brow at the ready, I started making Strawberry Balsamic Jam.
While my strawberries were cooking down and filling the house with their wonderful sweet smell, I was paging idly through my preserving cookbook and there was a recipe for panna cotta, using the jam I was in the midst of making. It looked so cool and refreshingly inviting that I felt I just had to make it, even though I never eat dessert. The recipe calls for the jam to be put into the bottom of ramekins and then pouring the panna cotta over top of that, but I had just removed the jars of jam from my pot and they had to sit undisturbed for a day. I had some syrup left over in the bottom of the pot, but it was boiling hot, so in the end, I used the strawberry balsamic syrup as a kind of coulis and placed the panna cotta on top of it.
This is a very simple recipe to make, but bear in mind you have to give it at least eight hours to set in the refrigerator. I left mine in overnight and it worked perfectly. It turned out to be everything that I wanted. Cool and creamy, light on the tongue with a lot of intense strawberry flavour from the syrup. I was on my way out of town and had to leave the other portions behind, but a suggestion to my kids that they might want to raid my refrigerator resulted in appreciative emails saying how delicious the panna cotta was. Of course, you don't have to make your own jam, and you could use any flavour you like, just make sure it's a good quality jam. This recipe is from "Well-Preserved" by Eugenia Bone.

Prep time: 15 minutes  

Total time: At least 8 hours  

Yield: 4 servings

Strawberry Balsamic Panna Cotta


  • 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup strawberry balsamic jam
Cooking directions
  1. Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water. Be sure the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  2. Add the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and dissolved gelatin to a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is just about to boil.
  3. Place 1 tablespoon of strawberry balsamic jam in the bottom of each of 4 ramekins. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and pour a quarter of the mixture into each ramekin. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
  4. To serve, run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the panna cotta. Turn the ramekin over and tap abruptly onto a plate. The panna cotta should pop right out.

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Strawberry Balsamic Panna Cotta
This recipe looked so cool and refreshingly inviting — I just had to make it. (And you might want to as well.)