Panna cotta (Italian for ‘cooked cream’) is one of my favorite desserts. It takes about 10 minutes to put together, can be made several days in advance if preparing for a dinner party, and is always popular with guests. It makes a nice light dessert for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Over the five years I have been blogging I have posted recipes for flavors such as passion fruit, chocolate hazelnut, and apricot, and this caramel-flavored panna cotta is also delicious. I associate caramel with autumn more than any other time of year, and prefer to make this recipe with cajeta, a Mexican caramel, because I think it produces the best flavor, but you can use whatever is available – dulce de leche or ice cream caramel topping both work. Enjoy!
Caramel Panna Cotta
1-3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
2 tablespoons water
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup 2% milk
3/4 cup cajeta or dulce de leche caramel
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small bowl whisk together gelatin and water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Place 4 (8 oz.) or 8 (4 oz.) ramekins on a tray. Set aside. In a 2-quart saucepan combine cream, milk, caramel, brown sugar, and salt. Turn heat to medium and whisk all ingredients until smooth. Heat the mixture, whisking often until hot and smoking, but do not boil. Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin mixture until it dissolves. Whisk in vanilla. Pour into prepared ramekins. Chill uncovered 4-6 hours, preferably overnight, then cover with plastic wrap once it is cold and set. Serves 4-8 depending on the size of the ramekin.