How to make panna cotta in the microwave

Now that I’ve mastered making panna cotta in the microwave, I’m officially ready for a stress-free holiday.

Panna Cotta is a delicious Italian custard-like dessert with vanilla beans. Translated, meaning “cooked cream,” it is usually made with simple ingredients such as cream, sugar, vanilla, and gelatin via a not so simple method that involves careful heating on the stove and hours of cooling time. While I find panna cotta irresistible when I’m out to eat, I usually avoid it in my kitchen due to the delicate consistency of gelatin once it’s over boiling.

Because, let’s face it: no one He wants a thick cream, even if it tastes like vanilla.

Luckily, I stumbled upon a Reddit recipe, posted by user green_amethyst who has an entire YouTube channel dedicated to shortening workday recipes, which substitutes the stovetop method for the microwave. As if that wasn’t tempting enough for the impatient baker, this panna cotta also cools in just 30 minutes.

Intrigued by the easy preparation process, I gathered my ingredients to see how the flavor would hold up when changing the traditional method. Here’s what happened.

All you need are four ingredients, plus a little water, to make this delicious dessert.Erica Chase Weda / TODAY

I was thrilled to learn that this recipe only requires five ingredients:

  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon gelatin
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste (optional)

The first thing to do is to bloom the gelatin, which takes only a few minutes (during which you can prepare everything else!). I added about 1 tablespoon of water at room temperature to a small, shallow bowl and sprinkled gelatin evenly on top, letting it sit until the powder had dissolved and turned into a gelatinous solid.

The gelatin and water mixture turns into a gel-like solid in less than five minutes.
The gelatin and water mixture turns into a gel-like solid in less than five minutes.Erica Chase Weda / TODAY

Meanwhile, I added 1/4 of the cream to a glass measuring cup and heated it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Once bloomed, I stirred the gelatin mixture with a paddle attachment until it was completely dissolved (no pieces). Whisk quickly for 10 seconds until everything is smooth. Then whisk in 1 tablespoon of sugar and vanilla bean paste.

Mix all the ingredients with the warm cream before adding the rest of the cold cream to the mixture.
Mix all the ingredients with the warm cream before adding the rest of the cold cream to the mixture.Erica Chase Weda / TODAY

According to the recipe, vanilla is optional, but I personally wouldn’t skip that: it adds a gently fragrant flavor that takes panna cotta from plain to perfect. Plus, ground vanilla beans give the end result a restaurant-quality look.

Finally, whisk in the remaining 3/4 cup of the cream and pour the mixture evenly between bowls or jars. Because I’m a big fan of anything individually divided in pretty packages – ‘jarcuterie’, anyone? – I did the latter, and managed to fill in three.

I put the lids on the jars while they cool and for easy storage in case I wasn't going to enjoy them right away.  But covering with plastic wrap will work just fine too!
I put the lids on the jars while they cool and for easy storage in case I wasn’t going to enjoy them right away. But covering with plastic wrap will work just fine too!Erica Chase Weda / TODAY

I rolled up the lids and popped them in the fridge. The recipe described it as refrigerating for 30 minutes but I did it for 45 minutes, as it was still very soft when I first removed it.

As for the taste, I would have never guessed that the panna cotta was made in the microwave. It was cold, creamy and smooth with a great flavour, not too sweet. It would be easy to double the recipe to make a delicious dessert for six people and play with different toppings.

Panna cotta is the perfect holiday dessert, and wears any toppings you like.
Panna cotta is the perfect holiday dessert, and wears any toppings you like.Erica Chase Weda / TODAY

In the end, I sprinkled dark red and frozen cherries on for a pop of festive color. It was very hard to resist.

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