Panna Cotta is an absolutely delicious Italian custard dessert that is surprisingly easy to make. Instead of an egg based custard like Crème brûlée, Panna Cotta tastes much lighter and utilizes gelatin to hold it together and eliminates the need to bake.
This recipe was inspired by some Green Muscat Grapes, which I recently tasted for the first time. It's crazy how much they taste like Moscato wine, which is Italian and is great with dessert. Italian + dessert got me thinking of Panna Cotta, which is probably my favorite dessert in the world. Then the grapes had to fit in somewhere. Granita is an Italian semi-frozen dessert similar to shaved ice that seemed like it would be fantastic made from the grapes and be a great contrast to the creamy Panna Cotta. I wanted one more saucy element to tie it all together, and that's where the Moscato-Vanilla Syrup comes in. Adding thin slices of the grapes over the top add another texture and flavor.
It’s all of the different elements that each bring a different texture that make this dish so wonderful. Each is visually appealing and complex, yet none are difficult to make. So delicious, refreshing and satisfying. Every bite is wonderful! Don't forget to drink a nice glass of Moscato with it!
This is a dessert that is best made the night before you need it since the Panna Cotta and the Granita take time to form.
There are over 200 varieties of Muscat grapes, and you can find out more about them at Specialty Produce. I picked these grapes up from Specialty Produce in San Diego. They are grown by Murray Family Farms in California. If you can't find Muscat grapes at your local farmers market or Specialty Produce, you can definitely substitute a different type of green or even red grape and have fantastic results.
- 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 lbs muscat or green grapes (about 4 cups), reserving a few grapes to slice for garnish
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Moscato Vanilla Syrup
- 1 cup pink moscato wine
- ¾ cup sugar
- reserved vanilla bean
Make the Grape Granita
- Blend the grapes on medium until well broken up. Avoid fully pureeing the skin. Push through a fine mesh strainer using a ladle to get all of the juice and add the lemon juice to taste.
- Pour the grape juice into a 13x9 baking dish and place in freezer.
- After 1 hour, rake the frozen granita with a fork, then place back in the freezer.
Make the Panna Cotta
- Whisk the gelatin with 3 tablespoons of water until smooth, in a small bowl. Let sit for 2 minutes.
- Split the vanilla bean with a sharp paring knife, and scrape the seeds into a medium saucepan with the sugar and half of the heavy cream (reserve the vanilla bean pod for the syrup). Whisk to dissolve the sugar while bringing to a simmer.
- Add the softened gelatin and continue to stir over low heat until completely dissolved.
- Remove from heat and add the remaining cream.
- Spray four 6-oz ramekins with canola cooking spray, then wipe out with a paper towel to leave a very thin layer of oil. This will help the custard slide out of the ramekins when it is time to serve.
- Pour the Panna Cotta into the ramekins, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
Make the Muscato-Vanilla Syrup
- Combine the sugar, Moscato wine and the reserved vanilla bean pod in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and stir to dissolve all the sugar. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Cool completely before using.
- Run a thin knife around the inside of each ramekin. Invert the ramekins onto plates. If the Panna Cotta does not easily release, you can dip the bottom of the ramekins in warm tap water for 15 to 30 seconds, then try again. Garnish with the grape slices, drizzle some of the syrup around the plate, then rake and spoon the granita on top. Serve immediately.