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Crème Fraîche Panna Cotta

Silky smooth Crème Fraîche Panna Cotta is the perfect dessert when you’re having guests. It’s fairly simple to make, can be prepared well in advance and will surely impress the most spoiled of guests. The crème fraîche adds a touch of tang and makes it irresistibly good! This recipe is by Kurt Gutenbrunner, an Austrian chef with a few amazing restaurants in NYC: Café Sabarsky, Blaue Gans and Wallsé. Chef Gutenbrunner makes his with marinated strawberries, we’ve gone for a Strawberry Coulis with a touch of vanilla whiskey. 😋


Makes 4 servings (but we have tripled this at times and it turned out great!)

2 gelatin sheets (or 1 1/2 teaspoons of gelatin powder, see notes below*)

cooking spray

1/2 cup (100 g) sugar plus more for coating

1 cup (240 g) heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon vanilla paste

3/4 cup (235 g) crème fraîche

Ingredients Strawberry Coulis

makes about 1 cup (250 ml)

3 cups (375 g) strawberries, stem removed and cut into quarters

1/4 (30 g) cup confectioner’s sugar (more if needed, according to taste)

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon vanilla whiskey (optional)

Instructions Strawberry Coulis

In a food processor or a blender, combine the strawberries and confectioner's sugar. Pulse until everything is finely puréed. Pass the purée through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the contents of the sieve with a wooden spoon to extract all the juice. Discard the seeds. Stir in the lemon juice. In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla whiskey, if using. Set aside.

Instructions Panna Cotta

  1. Fill a small bowl with ice water. Add the gelatin sheets and let soak for 15 minutes. Spray four 4-ounce ramekins with cooking spray. Add a little sugar to each ramekin und turn to lightly coat the bottom and sides, tapping out any excess.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the cream with 1/4 cup of the sugar and the vanilla paste and heat over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Pour into a medium bowl.

  3. Remove the gelatin from the water and squeeze dry. Add the gelatin to the cream mixture and whisk until frothy. Let cool.

  4. Add the crème fraîche to a medium bowl. Add 1/4 of the cream mixture and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining cream mixture. Scrape into the prepared ramekins, filling them to the rim. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate until set, 3-4 hours, or overnight.

  5. Run a small knife around each panna cotta to loosen it. Invert a dessert plate over each ramekin and, holding the plate and ramekin together, quickly invert them. Tap the bottom of the ramekin to loosen the panna cotta, and lift the ramekin. Spoon some of the strawberry coulis on top and serve with fresh berries.

*Pastry chefs like to use sheet gelatin because it yields a better texture than the powdered variety. Sheet gelatin is available in the baking section of specialty super markets. However, powdered gelatin can be used here instead. In a small saucepan, sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of powdered gelatin over 1/4 cup of the cream and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of cream, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the vanilla, and cook over low heat, stirring often, until the gelatin and sugar dissolve. Pour into a large bowl and proceed with Step 4.

Crème Fraîche Panna Cotta recipe by Kurt Gutenbrunner from the cookbook Neue Cusine, The Elegant Tastes of Vienna, Rizzoli international Publications, 2011

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