Note: If caramel hardens before pouring into all 6 ramekins, simply microwave it a few seconds until it is pourable.


  • 3 cups whipping cream, preferably not ultra-pasteurized
  • 6 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (if using Tahitian, use half the bean)
  • 1 envelope plus 3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • Caramelized Topping:
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Nonstick vegetable spray


Panna Cotta without Caramel topping:
Stir together cream and sweetened condensed milk in a small saucepan. Add vanilla bean and sprinkle gelatin on top. Allow to stand 5 minutes. Scald mixture over medium-low heat,until small bubbles form around periphery, stirring often. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, and add.(discard vanilla pod, or dry and save for another use.) Stir briefly to blend. Strain mixture. Pour into 6 lightly oiled 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. To unmold, run a small spatula around edge of each ramekin. Place serving plate over top and invert, inserting metal spatula into side between panna cotta and ramekin to create air pocket.
Panna Cotta With Caramelized Topping:
Stir together sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small heavy nonstick saucepan until sugar is completely moistened. Place over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and syrup is bubbling. Stop stirring completely and allow syrup to boil undisturbed until it turns a deep amber color (350 to 370 degrees on candy thermometer.)
Immediately remove from the heat; pour syrup into a glass measure (sprayed with non stick vegetable spray) to stop cooking. Used greased tablespoon to quickly pour 1 tablespoon caramel into each of 6 lightly oiled 6-ounce ramekins, turning and rolling ramekins until caramel evenly coats sides.Refrigerate ramekins until caramel is hardened or allow to harden at room temperature. Prepare Panna Cotta as above and pour mixture into ramekins. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 6 hours, preferably overnight, to allow caramel to liquify.

Serves 6

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Submitted 6/13/05.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch 1994
Submitted By: Eileen Werth
Panna Cotta