Tropical Panna Cotta

One of my favorite things about our Sunday Supper Group is that it brings people from all over the world together for “dinner.”  I can not tell you how much I have learned about cultures from around the globe from the members of this group.  Through recipes and traditions, the Sunday Supper Movement allows us to take part in cultures and recipes from various countries.  

What I always find so interesting is that as much as we think food from across the globe is different, through many recipes, we realize that we are all the same.  I recently tried Panna Cotta made by Hedy Goldsmith when I attended the Buick Discovery Tour.  I immediately fell in love with the Panna Cotta’s creamy, smooth, cool texture, paired perfectly with fruit.  I knew that it was a recipe I wanted to attempt at home.   Imagine my surprise when Paula sent me her recipe for Tropical Panna Cotta.

I have adored Vintage Kitchen Notes since the first time I came across this blog. The recipes and the stories immediately spoke to me and I was honored when Paula agreed to join our Sunday Supper Movement.  I have always wanted to visit Buenos Aires and tasting the food through Paula’s beautiful recipes has been such a treat for me.

I am honored to call Paula a friend and look forward to meeting her at our First Annual Food and Wine Conference.  Enjoy her beautiful post and recipe for Tropical Panna Cotta.

It´s always refreshing to guest post a spring dessert during the fall, since I write from the southern hemisphere, the city of Buenos Aires.

And Isabel makes it extra nice with her warmth and enthusiasm. I don´t have to tell you how talented she is, you most certainly know that. As our Sunday Supper herd leader, she´s always encouraging and thoughtful with everyone, and I´m glad my little food blog gave me the opportunity to meet her and call her my friend.

Panna cotta is cooked cream in italian. And as with many italian desserts, it´s creamy and smooth unlike few things I have ever tasted. For me it´s one the the most perfect desserts.

Let me elaborate. It comes together quite easily, simply heat cream with sugar or in this case honey, add gelatin and maybe flavorings and refrigerate until set.

Since it´s basically cream, it can be infused or flavored with so, so, so many things, from coffee to cinnamon, fresh fruit puree or citrus zests or extracts, so there´s always one for even the pickiest palates. Or for the sophisticated ones because you can do as many flavor combinations as you can imagine.

It can be made ahead of time. And, depending on how you work around it, can work as a dessert in winter. Michel Roux, the famous french chef, whose recipe I´m using today, suggests an affogato panna cotta, which is simply the vanilla cream custard with a shot of piping hot espresso on top. Imagine eating that by the fireplace.

tropical panna cotta

But today it´s all about spring. And since it´s the season of growth and sunny days, I think fresh tropical fruits are the perfect companion for this panna cotta.

And we´re doing it family-style. Because, well, Isabel is the family foodie and she loves things that are made for the whole family to share. It fits well. And let me tell you that if you make panna cotta in one large bowl and serve it like you would a mousse, this dessert becomes even better. Because it´s even easier to make since there is no unmolding. And if you´re like me, you can steal some extra from the bowl. Or some extra fruit.

It also gives me a reason to use whatever cups or bowls I have when serving, mismatched and all. It´s a casual dessert.

Some tips about this recipe. The gelatin needs to be hydrated in cold water. Always. Then it´s added to the hot mixture but not cooked. Always. It´s the only way it works like it should. And straining the final mixture is almost a must, because you´ll get rid of any string of gelatin that might not have melted. The texture is so pure, it´ll be a shame to find tough bits that were not meant to be there.

I choose to roast half the mango with some light brown sugar and leave the other half fresh. Then I put some on top and some inside the panna cotta, so there are different textures. But that´s personal taste. And I always add a few tablespoons of powdered sugar to fresh passion fruit. But again, that´s personal taste, and I guess fruits are very different in every country.

One other thing about the fruit, use whatever is ripe and juicy and in season. Nothing beats a piece of fruit that tasted great by itself to start with.

TROPICAL HONEY PANNA COTTA a bit adapted from Desserts, by Michel Roux
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
  • 3 Tbs water
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup + 1 Tbs honey
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1 ripe passion fruit
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs powdered sugar
  1. Set a bowl with some ice and reserve.
  2. Put water in a small bowl or cup. Sprinkle gelatin evenly on top, let hydrate for a few minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, put cream, milk and honey in a saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Stir until it almost boils, remove from heat and add gelatin, which will be like a thick, almost solid paste. Stir until the gelatin melts completely.
  5. Add vanilla, stir to incorporate and strain through a sieve into a bowl set over the bowl with ice.
  6. Stir from time to time until it is almost cold.
  7. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  8. Dice the mango, put half on the bottom of the serving bowl. Have ready enough space to fit the bowl comfortably in the refrigerator.
  9. When the panna cotta mixture is almost cold, slowly add it to the bowl with the mango pieces.
  10. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, or until set.
  11. Put the other half mango pieces in a baking tray, scatter brown sugar on top and roast for about 20 mintues, until it begins to soften. Reserve.
  12. When ready to serve, scoop out the passion fruit onto a bowl. Add the powdered sugar and mix well until smooth.
  13. To serve, put the roasted mango on top of the cold panna cotta. Drizzle some passion fruit over.
  14. Pass the rest of the passion fruit in a bowl.


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  1. says

    This, is beautiful. I thought, wow… Isabel made dessert, but alas you had not… but Paula’s dessert looks absolutely beautiful and looks wonderful sitting here on your blog. It was the perfect addition!!
    Love you both!

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