Panna Cotta with Peaches

This panna cotta with peaches recipe features a soft pudding-like base mixed with almond and honey that’s topped with peaches that have been infused with lemon thyme.–The Editors of Gourmet

LC To Unmold Or Not To Unmold? Note

Here’s what the awesome editors of Gourmet, God rest its soul, had to say about the eternally perplexing question of whether or not to unmold panna cotta: “The translation from Italian—cooked cream—doesn’t begin to convey how luscious the gently gelled sweet cream mixture called panna cotta is. The amount of gelatin determines how tender the results will be. If you don’t plan to unmold the dessert, you can play a bit with the gelatin, lowering it to a point where the panna cotta is set so softly that it holds its shape on a spoon but dissolves into a puddle on your tongue, like this one. If you want to try unmolded versions, be sure to lightly oil your molds first and chill the panna cotta well, at least 6 hours. When it’s time to turn them out, dip each mold for about 10 seconds in a bowl of warm water, then dry off the bottom before inverting it onto a plate.” We say just use pretty bowls and grab a spoon.

Panna Cotta with Peaches Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 8 H, 40 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • For the panna cotta
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-ounce envelope)
  • 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mild honey, plus more for drizzling (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • For the peaches
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 peaches, peeled if desired, pitted, and thinly sliced

Directions

  • Make the panna cotta
  • 1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small heavy saucepan and let it stand for 1 minute to soften. Stir in the cream and salt, then heat gently over medium-low heat, stirring, until the gelatin has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  • 2. In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, honey, and almond extract, then whisk that into the cream mixture.
  • 3. Pour the mixture into 4 small bowls, cover, and refrigerate until set, at least 6 to 8 hours and up to 3 days.
  • Make the peaches
  • 4. Just before serving, mince the lemon thyme with the sugar on a cutting board. Plop the peaches in a large bowl, sprinkle with the sugared thyme, and toss. Let the peaches rest at room temperature, stirring them and their juices occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  • Assemble the panna cotta with peaches
  • 5. While the peaches macerate in their juices, remove the panna cotta from the refrigerator, uncover, and let stand at room temperature.
  • 6. Do not unmold the panna cotta. Instead, simply top each bowl of panna cotta with some of the peaches and juice. Drizzle with additional honey, if desired.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Beth Price

Jul 18, 2014

Oh so easy, oh so satisfying. I have a bit of a thing with the cloying scent and flavor of almond extract, so I substituted vanilla extract and it was lovely, creamy, and the perfect base for any seasonal fruit or favorite topping. As there was nary a ripe peach in sight, I used diced ripe mangoes. When I get home to South Carolina, I'll try it as written with peaches, and maybe raspberries. Oh, and strawberries. And blueberries. You get the picture.

Testers Choice
Alexander Cowan

Jul 18, 2014

This panna cotta with peaches recipe had the most luscious of textures. The consistency reminded me of the best silken tofu I've ever had—so smooth, like putting velvet on your tongue. I think you really need to think about the size of peaches you choose for this panna cotta recipe. I used 3 large peaches (each about the size of a fist) that was entirely too much for 4 little bowls of panna cotta. If your peaches are small, yeah, 3 will work great. Next time I would lessen the amount of lemon thyme to 1 tablespoon lightly packed leaves. Also, while peeling the peaches is optional, I would highly recommend removing the skins, as they don't look pretty and the added texture isn't a good thing.

Testers Choice
Anne D.

Jul 18, 2014

This was my first time making panna cotta, and it certainly will not be the last. I've long been intimidated by the idea that getting the proper consistency is difficult, but this recipe nailed it. I used a cup of plain 2% Greek yogurt, and it worked perfectly. I was certain when I read the recipe that the amount of thyme called for was too much for such a small amount of fruit, but don't skimp! When everything comes together, the thyme offers a perfectly subtle, herby note to the sweetness of the peaches and the tart yogurt. I subbed vanilla extract for the almond extract simply because I'm not a fan of the latter, and the vanilla complemented the honey, yogurt, and peaches wonderfully. I confess that I couldn't wait the full 8 hours before trying my first panna cotta and nabbed one at the 4-hour mark. It was smooth and creamy and definitely not set, but it was still delicious. The remaining panna cotta that I allowed to set overnight were perfect. The amount of gelatin called for results in a panna cotta that is just set but still custardy and lacks any of the dreaded rubberiness I've experienced in less-than-stellar panna cottas of my past.

I wasn't in any hurry to unmold the rest of these babies because I wanted to get to the eating. I suspect that the very thing I liked about them--their overall softness and creaminess--would have made for some difficulties unmolding. I suggest using pretty bowls and digging right in.

Testers Choice
Kate H. Knapp

Jul 18, 2014

This panna cotta with peaches recipe is a heavenly dessert with only 15 minutes of work? Believe it. Granted, the panna cotta takes at least 8 hours to set, so keep that in mind when making it, but it’s an absolutely lovely summer treat without a lot of time spent at the stove. The honey and almond work beautifully with the peaches and the aromatic lemon thyme, but the panna cotta really would be fantastic with a variety of other fruits--and is quite good on its own. This recipe is definitely a keeper and will be made time and again. I ended up using non-fat Greek yogurt, and the result was really creamy and tangy. It set up perfectly and was a breeze to make. I used almond extract because I love almond. I probably could have even added just a touch more. The peaches I used were slightly less ripe than I would have liked, but the macerating solved that issue in a hurry.

Testers Choice
Kim Venglar

Jul 18, 2014

I always thought panna cotta was much harder to make than this. I was wrong. This was easy to put together—the hardest part was waiting for it to chill before we could eat it. I used vanilla bean paste instead of almond extract because we don't care for the flavor combination of peaches and almonds. The vanilla bean paste gave it the added bonus of the little black flecks from the bean. I used fresh lemon thyme from our garden, and I believe I can find more uses for the peach mixture besides this recipe. It was a very nice flavor combination that didn't overpower the panna cotta but gave it just the right amount of flavor. Everyone agreed that there did need to be a little pinch of salt added to the fresh peaches, and that made the flavors stand out so much better.

Testers Choice
Tamiko Lagerwaard

Jul 18, 2014

The panna cotta with peaches recipe was a delightful, refreshing, easy, and light dessert to have on a hot summer day. This was an unctuous, creamy, and rich dessert that had just the right amount of sweetness. I also enjoyed that it was firm yet still creamy. I made the panna cotta the night before to let everything set up and chill properly. I added vanilla instead of almond extract. Very refreshing to have a dessert that’s only lightly enhanced by sugar as opposed to being overpowered by it. My family was not fond of the herbiness of the lemon thyme with the peaches, but I think this is going to be a preferred taste or not. Perhaps a more traditional squeeze of lemon will be the next addition when I make this next time.

Testers Choice
Renee H.

Jul 18, 2014

I grew up on boxed cook-n-serve pudding, and to this day it holds a sweet spot in my heart. But now, having made and tasted this panna cotta with peaches, the box will cease to exist for me. Who knew it was this easy to make panna cotta? My grocer had baskets and baskets of peaches but nary a ripe one, so I turned to the next best thing-- nectarines. I had to use regular old thyme leaves here, and it was wonderful. Where does one find lemon thyme, anyway, and what's the difference? I find almond extract to be extremely aggressive tasting so I opted for vanilla. I was glad I did--it brought a subtle sweetness while letting the tang of the yogurt and the sweetness of the nectarines come through. I couldn’t wait the full 8-hour resting time, as it was calling my name from the minute I placed it on the rack of the refrigerator. Instead, I succumbed after 4 hours then quickly fell in love with the slightly firm yet creamy texture that resembled the boxed pudding of my childhood rather than a wiggly-jiggly jello. Oh-so-easy, oh-so-satisfying.

Comments
Comments
  1. Thomas Marzahl says:

    This is the second time I’ve seen a recipe on LC which lists gelatin as an essential ingredient… not ideal for vegetarians. Is there a substitute available for gelatin that has similar properties and is not a huge amount of additional work? I know some people swear by agar agar but that can be quite fickle… so I often find myself just not making anything that requires the use of gelling agents other than naturally occurring pectin or the like.

  2. Eydie Desser, LC Tester says:

    Hi, Thomas. I agree, agar agar can be a little finicky and takes some trial runs to ensure it provides the right consistency. More agar agar for firmer panna cotta or more liquid for softer texture. But, there are alternatives!

    Try Unflavored Vegan Jel by Natural Desserts, or Kosher Jels like Lieber’s Unflavored Gel. Both can be found on Amazon.

    One last ode to Agar Agar. I haven’t tried this, but I recently found an alternative way to make agar agar possibly work better from veganvegetariancookingschool.com

    Here’s how they use agar agar:
    1/2 cup agar agar powder (not flakes)
    1/2 cup organic cornstarch

    Combine well and store in an airtight container. Use 1 tablespoon per 1 1/2 cups of liquid for med-firm.

    Directions: Wisk Jel into 1/2 cup of liquid from the recipe, bring to a boil, boiling 1 minute, and add to recipe. Blend just until mixed and chill.

    Hope this helps.

    Eydie E. Desser
    LC Senior Tester

  3. I have some dietary limitations when it comes to dessert — but your recipe works perfectly for me. Thanks so much for sharing. Can’t wait to try it for myself and on dinner guests.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Terrific, Nancy! I know what it’s like to have dietary restrictions and do without when everyone else indulges, so I’m incredibly pleased to hear that this works for you. Can’t wait to hear what you and your guests think of it…

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