“You take two cups of milk and two cups of cream and warm it on the stove,” Tim’s saying to me from the dining room. I place our medium Le Creuset saucepan, the cream one with the handle, on the back burner.

“OK, then what?” I call back to him.

“Add ½ cup of Sucanat and stir until it dissolves.”

While the sugar combines with the milk and cream, I set out a bowl and fill it with six tablespoons of water, then toss five teaspoons of gelatin over the top.

I return to the stove. A couple minutes and a few stirs later, the sugar’s totally dissolved, and I remove the saucepan from the heat. I add vanilla extract and almond extract, stir, and pour the saucepan’s contents into the gelatin-water bowl. Stir. Let it all dissolve.

“Then I just pour it into the cups?” I say to Tim, thinking aloud that this has been too simple, wondering if we’ve somehow skipped a step. He’s in the kitchen next to me now, right beside me while I divvy up the mixture, pour it into oiled ramekins and set them in the fridge.

“I told you it was easy,” he responds, his back to me now while he begins washing dishes and setting them to dry. This is not the first time I’ve made panna cotta, nor Tim’s, but it is the first time we’ve made it together. Also, more notably, it’s the first time the process has been so easy that as soon as we’re done, I’ve got it memorized, repeating the whole process back to Tim minutes later when we settle in on the sofa, and I take out a piece of paper and write it down.

panna cotta

Tim made this exact same panna cotta recipe for me, minus the almond extract, I think, a few weeks ago, when one or the other of us heard someone say “panna cotta,” developed a craving and quickly passed the obsession along to the other so that pretty soon, both of us, regularly, were saying out loud, “Doesn’t panna cotta sound so good?” “I wish we had some panna cotta right now!” and “Let’s get some cream at the store so we can make panna cotta.” But it wasn’t until late one night, when the sky had already grown dark, that we finally made good on the daydreams—and side by side with a Netflix movie, ate rich, luxurious, creamy bowl after bowl of it, alongside raspberries, licking our lips as we went. This panna cotta isn’t the kind of craving that abates when you feed it, the kind where you, one night, make yourselves panna cotta, and then for months thereafter give it nary a thought: no, sir. This panna cotta is the chocolate chip cookie of the magical custardy world: with every bite you take, you just want more.

fresh figs and panna cotta

So that’s how we’ve found ourselves in the kitchen tonight, panna cotta chilling in the fridge while we clean the kitchen and return to our laptops, long work projects calling our names. It’ll be past 10 p.m. when the desserts are finally set enough to warrant sharing one, and the next morning when we finally get to turn two out onto plates and top them with sliced figs and honey.

panna cotta on flower plate

But even after we do, after, between the two of us, we’ve consumed dish after dish after dish after giant wine glass filled with panna cotta, the rich cream cut by the sweet and caramel-like milk layer, and it’s all gone, every last bit, less than one day after it’s made, we look at each other and still think the same thing:

Let’s make more panna cotta!


Panna Cotta with Figs and Honey
Serves four (or, if you’re us, eager for bowl and bowl, two)

Our panna cotta looks layered because we use milk and cream—we’re told half-and-half (or all cream) will give you a more unified look, but that does make one wonder what exactly is done to half-and-half to make it no longer just milk and cream. Personally, I adore the layers because of the way they counterbalance each other and change up the look, but what you choose is entirely up to you.

2 cups of milk
2 cups of cream
1/2 cup of unrefined cane sugar (Sucanat)
6 tablespoons water
5 teaspoons gelatin (we like Great Lakes )
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Sliced figs and drizzled honey, for topping

Grease (we used olive oil) a few ramekins or glasses and set aside. In a medium saucepan over moderate heat, warm two cups of milk, two cups of cream and 1/2 cup of Sucanat, stirring here and there until the sugar is totally dissolved. Meanwhile, place water in a medium bowl and toss gelatin on top, letting it sit. Once sugar is dissolved in milk-cream mixture, add vanilla and almond extracts, stir; then, pour liquid atop the gelatin and stir until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Pour mixture into the ramekins and chill for at least four hours, until fully set.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Rachel

    This does look so easy! I have never made panna cotta, but have always been interested in it. Do you think you can replace the sucanat with regular sugar in this recipe? Thanks for sharing!

    1. Shannalee

      Hi Rachel, Yep, regular sugar should work, one-to-one, as a replacement here. Hope you enjoy!

  2. Kat

    I love your illustrated recipe! So darling.

    1. Shannalee

      Thank you, sweet girl!

  3. Carrie | acookgrowsinbrooklyn

    Those figs look perfect! Glossy and pink and perfect! If you ask me – I like that layered look that you get with the milk and cream combo, too. And it’s true, what’s up with half and half that it doesn’t separate? Hmmmm….

    1. Shannalee

      Right? Troubling…

  4. Jacqui

    Dude, I’ve never had panna cotta. And now that I think of it, I can’t think of what a fig tastes like, either. This has to change, obviously.

    1. Shannalee

      I never had fresh figs until this year, I think, and while they aren’t as sweet as dried figs, they’re lovely in their own right… especially as an extra feature in a dessert like this one. : ) Would love to hear what you think!

  5. kristina

    it looks like it’s divded in two? why! 😀

    1. Shannalee

      Hi Kristina, That’s because our recipe uses half milk and half cream. If you want to avoid the separated look, you can use half-and-half.

  6. brandi

    i’ve never made panna cotta, either, but i need to – especially while we still have figs in the yard! beautiful dessert

    1. Shannalee

      Figs in the yard!!!!!

      I cannot get over that statement.

  7. Kathryn

    I love panna cotta, I don’t know why it’s been so long since I’ve made it but this has made me crave it!

    1. Shannalee

      Trust me, I understand! : )

  8. Stacy

    I always appreciate recipes that acknowledge real-life appetites — particularly when it comes to dessert! I’m sure it would serve just two in this house as well. ; )

    1. Shannalee

      Haha! Kindreds. : )

  9. Kelsey

    We’re on the same wavelength with the whole fig/almond extract theme. So yum. I’m actually with Jacqui though, never had panna cotta! The texture has always turned me off. This would be worth a try, though! Do you think I could use agar agar instead of gelatin?

    1. Shannalee

      You know, Kelsey, I’m not sure, but only because I’ve never used agar agar before. If you try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  10. Christine

    Oh my goodness – This looks divine!

    1. Shannalee

      Thanks, Christine!

  11. Castelle and Alico

    Oh my! This looks heavenly! I love the combination, and yes, panna cotta is one of the easiest things ever.

    It’s a great recipe to pull out for large groups of people coming over. People are always amazed.

    As for alternate baking – I know a lot of people say to use agar agar. It’s great, but you have to be careful. Alico (my partner in crime) and I once mixed up our measurements and made something that we like to call ‘wub’. Essentially, we put it in a plastic bag and proceeded to throw it to the ground with great gusto. The ‘wub’ sound is what hit our ears as it bounced almost back to the height of our knees.

    Keep it up! I look forward to reading through your entries and sharing them with friends.

    1. Shannalee

      Ha! That image is priceless!

  12. Kimberley

    Love this. Panna cotta has long been on my list of desserts to make, and yet I still haven’t. Seems so perfect for this time of year. And even more, your perfect late summer use of figs.

    1. Shannalee

      Thanks, Kimberley!

  13. Ruthy

    It was stupid of me to read this before breakfast because now I’m famished and craving figs! This looks excellent- have never made panna cotta, I didn’t think it was that simple- will definitely be trying it. Me and my husband’s stomach thank you :)

    1. Shannalee

      Ha! I know just how you feel. : )

  14. Danielle

    I’ve forgotten how easy it is to make panna cotta – thank you for reminding me! Did you create that illustration by hand? It’s beautiful!

    1. Shannalee

      Aw, thank you, Danielle! I’ve been finding a lot of joy in random drawing lately, and this one I figured I’d share. : )

  15. Helene @ French Foodie Baby

    Catching up on all the posts I’ve missed… This looks scrumptious, I LOVE panna cotta! And admire Tim for being able to “wing” it so easily! And BTW, I love your new banner, looks just beautiful.

    1. Shannalee

      I admire him, too. And thanks!

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