I am excited to share with you the recipe for what I think is the best chocolate panna cotta around!
It’s super creamy, not too sweet, and it can be garnished and flavored in many ways.
For more panna cotta goodness, you may like my lemon corn panna cotta or cream cheese panna cotta tart.
For ease of browsing, here are all of my individual desserts. Thanks for stopping by!
Watch my chocolate panna cotta recipe web story here.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
Panna cotta is easy to make and almost fool-proof.
Once you learn the procedure, you are free to experiment with your own flavor combinations.
The ingredient list is relatively short.
The flavor payoff is big, and panna cotta is an impressive dessert to serve.
Everyone gets their own, which is always nice for a fancy dessert.
You can also garnish it in many ways, as you can see from my photos. Feel free to go your own way and garnish with whatever makes you happy.
The main flavor is chocolate, but you can also add other flavors. For example, adding mint or orange would be a lovely way to change up the flavor.
How To Make Chocolate Panna Cotta
Let’s run through what you’ll need and how to make this dessert.
Ingredients and Substitutions
NOTE: This is just the ingredient list so you’ll know what to expect. Please use the Jump to Recipe button at the top or scroll down to get the full recipe. Thanks!
- heavy cream (half and half or even coconut cream–not cream of coconut)
- powdered gelatin (if you want to keep this vegetarian, you can use agar agar, 1:1 although the set and mouthfeel will be a bit different)
- whole milk (2% would be fine as well)
- sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw, but any granulated sugar or brown sugar will do)
- salt: Don’t leave out the salt. It brings out the flavor of the dish, and your panna cotta will taste flat without it.
- vanilla: rounds out the flavors and adds a floral note.
- dark chocolate (I used a 70% dark chocolate, but if all you have are semisweet chocolate chips, use those. It’ll be fine!)
What to Do
- Soften the gelatin in a portion of the milk
- Heat the rest of the milk with the sugar and salt until steaming
- Off the heat, add chopped chocolate and vanilla and whisk to combine.
- Heat over medium-low heat to make sure the chocolate is completely melted. Don’t let it boil.
- Whisk the gelatin mixture into the hot chocolate mixture.
- Strain into a bowl and add half the heavy cream to cool the mixture.
- Chill until just barely starting to set and get thick. Whisk well.
- Whip remaining cream just until thickened and stir/fold into the chocolate mixture.
- Pour into containers and chill until completely set, about 4 hours.
While the above “rules” sound a little fussy, following them isn’t hard, and it’s the best way to get a creamy rather than “slick” texture.
To cool your panna cotta mixture down quickly, chill it in an ice bath, whisking occasionally, until thick. Then fold in the last portion of heavy cream.
Panna Cotta Q & A
Gelatin is easy to work with. Remember to let it sit in cold liquid for it to soften and “bloom” before adding it to hot liquid. Stir in completely and make sure the mixture is completely smooth and not at all gritty. Strain for insurance. The end.
For each cup (8 oz) of dairy, use 1 teaspoon of gelatin if you plan on unmolding your panna cotta. If you plan to serve it in dishes or ramekins, you can get away with a bit of a softer set and use 3/4 teaspoon gelatin per cup of dairy.
For each teaspoon of gelatin, you’ll need 1 sheet or leaf of gelatin.
Soak the sheet gelatin in ice water until it is soft and pliable. Squeeze it out and stir it into your hot liquid. Done.
No, you don’t. You can just add the cream all at once. I prefer the mouthfeel of whisking in gently whipped cream to the chocolate mixture, but if you are short on time, it’s fine to just add all of it and pour it into containers immediately. It will still be very tasty!
Absolutely. Use unsweetened chocolate as opposed to the 70% I used and use sometime like Bocha Sweet (or your favorite sugar sub) instead of sugar. Also make it with all heavy cream. If you can afford a few more carbs, consider keeping the cream at 1 cup and subbing half and half for the cup of milk called for.
There is nothing wrong with placing a dish of panna cotta in front of someone and telling them to have at it!
There are also lots of easy ways to jazz up your presentation if you want to, as well.
For my guys, I made four garnishes:
- whipped some cream with a touch of sugar, a wee pinch of salt, and a few drops of vanilla
- chocolate ganache
- white chocolate ganache
- grated dark chocolate
As you can see in the photographs, I mixed and matched the garnishes in different ways to get different looks.
This was pretty easy to do, and it literally took me about 10 minutes total to make all four garnishes.
Feel free to serve all your panna cottas with the same garnishes, but also know you can serve everyone’s garnished just a bit differently, just for fun!
There are plenty of other ways to garnish as well.
If you have any questions about this or any other recipe or post on the site, there are a few ways to get in touch.
You can leave a comment on the post, and I’ll be back in touch within 24 hours.
If your question is more pressing, don’t hesitate to email me, and I should be back in touch within 4 hours (unless I’m asleep) or often much more quickly than that.
Some ideas for you:
- berry sauce such as raspberry or strawberry
- creme Anglaise
- hot fudge sauce instead of simple ganache
- caramel sauce
- little chocolate covered crispy pearls
- marshmallow sauce
- peanut butter sauce
- jimmies or sprinkles on top of whipped cream
The list goes on, so please have fun with it!
A Note About Measurements
This is the kitchen scale that I recommend for home cooks and bakers. Using a scale will help you be more accurate and consistent in your measurements.
It is lightweight, easy to store, accurate, and very easy to use.
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
I hope you’ve learned something from this post or that you’ve decided to make the recipe.
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I really hope you love these easy individual desserts, you guys!
Thanks, and enjoy!
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk, divided use
- 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- pinch of salt
- 2 oz sugar (about 1/4 cup)
- 3 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 70%)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1 cup heavy cream, divided use
- Stir the gelatin into 1/4 cup cold milk and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Heat the rest of the milk, the sugar, and salt together in a small saucepan until steaming but not boiling.
- Off the heat, stir in the chopped chocolate and vanilla.
- If the chocolate does not melt all the way and the mixture looks like it has tiny specks of chocolate in it as opposed to a uniform "brown" look, heat over medium low heat, stirring constantly, unitl the chocolate is completely melted.
- Stir the bloomed gelatin/milk into the hot chocolate mixture and mix well. Check to make sure it's not grainy. If it is, barely heat and whisk again. You want to make sure the mixture is smooth so the gelatin can set up well and so your panna cotta is not grainy.
- Strain the chocolate mixture into a bowl and whisk in 1/2 cup of the heavy cream.
- Chill until just starting to set and then whisk it well.
- Softly whip the other 1/2 cup of cream just until thickened. It does not need to reach even soft peaks.
- Fold/stir into the chocolate/gelatin mixture and pour into containers.
- Chill until set, or freeze.
- Allow to thaw before serving. See Notes.
TO UNMOLD: The easiest way to unmold these for serving is to pour the mixture into silicone baking cups or 4 oz plastic "souffle cups." Then you can freeze them. Before serving, pop them out of the silicone or use scissors to cut the souffle cups and then peel them away. Place on serving plates, top-side down and let sit until no longer icy. Then garnish as desired and serve.
STORAGE: The panna cottas will be just fine in the fridge for 3-4 days. You can freeze them for up to 2 months.
GARNISH: Serve these with chocolate sauce, creme Anglaise, berry sauce or fresh berries, whipped cream, shaved chocolate, caramel sauce, peanut butter sauce, etc. Anything that goes nicely with chocolate would make a great accompaniment.
- Mocha: add 1-2 teaspoons instant coffee or 1 teaspoon espresso powder to the mix
- Mint: add 2-3 drops peppermint oil or maybe 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract to the mix
- Chocolate Orange: Add the zest of 1 orange in step 2 and let steep for 30 minutes before continuing. Alternatively, add 2-3 drops of orange oil along with the chocolate
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Nutrition InformationYield 4
Amount Per Serving Calories 315Total Fat 19.9gSaturated Fat 12.8gCholesterol 54mgSodium 100mgCarbohydrates 29.5gFiber 0.7gSugar 27.6gProtein 5.7g
And there you have it friends. Easy, creamy, and I think the best chocolate panna cotta. I hope you enjoy it!
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