Make Ahead

Black Pepper and Parmesan Panna Cotta

March 31, 2016
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Last year, my husband and I went to Italy. It was one of our most awaited trips. Those who have been to Italy know why it is such a wonderful place to visit. We dined at so many wonderful places and filled our bellies with such amazing flavors and homemade foods. But I cannot forget this one restaurant where we had an awesome savory panna cotta. Honestly, until now I always thought of panna cotta as a dessert option. But this experience changed it all. So, here's my attempt of making the savory panna cotta. I cannot completely remake with the same flavors, but this recipe can definitely do some justice. —Devangi Raval

Test Kitchen Notes

This was delicious! I thought all the suggested toppings paired really well with the cheesy wanna cotta. However, next time, I'll add a bit more freshly ground pepper and Parmesan and a pinch of salt to the panna cotta custard. I look forward to preparing and serving this again! —Bebe Carminito

What You'll Need
  • 2 sheets gelatin
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • Handful cherry tomatoes, to serve
  • Basil oil or premade basil pesto, to serve
  • Pine nuts, to serve
  1. Bloom the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water while you make the base.
  2. Heat milk and cream in a saucepan. Bring it to boil, and mix in the Parmesan cheese and black pepper very thoroughly. Take the gelatin sheets (without the water) and add them in the hot mixture. Stir to combine completely.
  3. Pour this mixture into ramekins or glass cups. Place in the refrigerator to set, at least 5 hours or preferably overnight.
  4. Just before serving, assemble the garnishes: Prepare the balsamic reduction by heating balsamic vinegar with sugar until it reduces and looks thick.
  5. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Toss them in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and grill them in a grill pan until you see grill marks on them (or roast them in the oven for about half an hour at 350° F).
  6. You can serve the panna cotta with either premade basil pesto or with homemade basil oil: Process 1/4 cup of basil leaves with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Process it in a way that it does not become a puree but is instead a coarse/rough mix. (You could also do this with a mortar and pestle.)
  7. To serve, spoon a little bit of basil pesto or oil on a plate. Unmold the panna cotta (directions below) and place it on it. Top it off with cherry tomatoes and drizzle some balsamic glaze on top of it. Garnish with pine nuts (or a Parmesan crisp!).
  8. To unmold the panna cotta, run a knife around the edges of the ramekins and then try to invert it on a plate before you place it on serving plate. I have found silicon muffin molds very useful for unmolding panna cotta. If you do not want to unmold them, you can serve them in small serving glasses and top off with the pesto, tomatoes, and glaze. Either way, it will taste great.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rochelle Winston Davies
    Rochelle Winston Davies
  • Ann Smyth Horton
    Ann Smyth Horton
  • Devangi Raval
    Devangi Raval
  • Fadi Bulos
    Fadi Bulos

7 Reviews

Rochelle W. January 4, 2018
So I just checked out the cost of gelatin sheets....the cheapest I could find them was for $20+ on amazon and that is for 5 sheets.....this is going to be a really expensive dessert!
Ann S. August 14, 2017
I'm not familiar with this dish. Is this a dinner side or a dessert?
Susun May 7, 2016
sounds lovely - but pray tell, I am unfamiliar with a "sheet" of gelatin. How does this translate into the more easy to find granular gelatin that typically is purchased in small packets (1 tsp. each). Thank you.
Rochelle W. August 14, 2017
Did anyone answer your question? I too am unfamilar with gelatin sheets. I also don't understand when transferring the gelatin sheets to the rest of the mixture (without the water they were soaking in), are you supposed to squeeze the excess water out of the sheets or is this even a consideration?
Fadi B. October 16, 2018
Gelatin sheets are much more expensive virgin and harder to find than the regular granulated
So I have a simple formula that I have simply learnt 4 gelatin sheets are around 10 grams so if you want to convert to the granulated regular gelatin you basically need 5 grams and resolve them in 25 grams of water since the ratio to granulated sugar and water is 1-5
And yes you have to squeeze out all the excesses water out of the gelatin sheets
lalith13 September 22, 2022
Gelatin sheets are more common in Europe than powder and are not expensive
Devangi R. April 26, 2016
Bebe Carminito - Thank you for the feedback. As always James Ransom what a lovely picture.