panna cotta with summer peaches & grand marnier

panna cotta

This panna cotta recipe represents all of the reasons that I fell in love with cooking. When I first decided that it was a necessity for our family that I at least try to learn to prepare something other than boxed macaroni & cheese, it was recipes like this one that made me realize that cooking really is not difficult. That there are certain recipes that will make you look as if you’re a rock star in the kitchen, even though they’re so easy that a child could pull them off. It’s the secret that chefs keep from those who have never attempted to cook.

panna cotta with peaches and blueberries

Panna cotta is one of these amazing recipes. It’s a fairly upscale dessert – you’ll find it on the menu of many fine dining restaurants. It’s lusciously creamy and smooth with a subtle sweetness. A bit like custard without all the tempering and fuss. It takes about 10 minutes total time to put together, then you just sit back while it firms in the cool fridge. Unmold it or put in pretty glasses and serve as is – it’s gorgeous either way and always makes an impression.

panna cotta with fresh peaches

I decided to use completely different dishes for this batch so that I could show how simple it is to tailor it to whatever occasion you’ve prepared it for. I like to unmold it for a dinner party or serve it in small dessert glasses if I have a crowd (place it on a tray and let guests pick them up as they’re ready). Sometimes I’ll garnish just a few but let everyone choose their own toppings: berry or citrus-brandy sauce, dark chocolate sauce, assorted fresh berries, or diced peaches soaked in Grand Marnier as I’ve done here. The choices are vast and you can tailor it to any season. You could even put it in mason jars and bring it to a picnic!

peach panna cotta

Although I love this recipe any time of year, I especially love it in the summer time. Fresh berries and fruits pair so perfectly with it that you really don’t need anything else. But you know me, and any chance I have to add booze to a dish I’ll take it! A drizzle of Grand Marnier to the peaches adds great flavor without any real effort.They’re best if you let them soak awhile but you can always add at the last minute if you’re concerned that not everyone wants the booze.

panna cotta with fresh berries

In any case, if you’ve never tried making panna cotta before, here is my plea that you do so right away. Nothing could be easier – or more delicious! You can thank me later ;-)

blueberry panna cotta