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Jan 1, 2013 02:42 PM

Panna cotta help!

So I have tried panna cotta twice now, with two different recipes and my guess is that I maybe can't rock panna cotta.
On my second attempt, the fat from the heavy cream separated while I heated it. And even after I mixed the gelatin and the whole milk, the fat wouldn't mix back in. So when I poured into ramekins, the fat stood on top and it hardened.
The panna cotta below did set and it was very tasty, but we had to go through this barrier of fat before and it wasn't nice. I don't know why this happened and I couldn't find answers for this on the internet.
Any help would be appreciated! :)

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    it's a pretty straightforward dish to make, but am unsure of your recipes and techniques?

    are you using ultra-pasteurized cream? that may be your problem too.

    1. I've never had the fat separate like that... how long did you cook the cream for before you added the milk? Did you use traditional heavy cream?

      1. This was the recipe I used:

        2-1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
        2 tbsp cold water
        1-1/4 cup heavy cream
        1/2 cup granulated sugar
        1 vanilla bean
        1-3/4 cup buttermilk

        The method was just the same as the other recipes I've seen around. Heat the cream and sugar slightly then adding the bloomed gelatin and buttermilk. My heavy cream is not ultra pasteurized.
        Patrincia, I heated the cream for about 2 minutes, but the fat from the cream started separating just as soon as I started heating it. I don't think it was a timing issue.

        3 Replies
        1. re: julianabr

          That's way more gelatin than I use, but i don't understand why cream would separate,
          here's a full discussion of panna cotta

          1. re: julianabr

            Hmmm - I'm stumped. When I make panna cotta, I add the other ingredients to the cream just after it reaches the boiling point, then I continue to cook for another minute or two. But you said your cream started to separate as soon as it hit the heat, which is unusual because heavy cream is generally very heat tolerant. If I were you, I'd try again with a different brand of heavy cream - I suspect you'll have better results.

            1. re: julianabr

              haha I had that happen one time and I realized I heated the buttermilk by accident

            2. I don't know what recipe you used (type of gelatin? cream to milk ratio?) - I'm sure you know not to boil it, but it often helps to make sure the sugar is fully dissolved and to put the warm incorporated ingredients in their bowl and mix them with the bowl in a larger bowl of lukewarm water. This seems to guarantee the integration of the ingredients.

              1. I thought maybe my cream was past expire date, but I just checked the container and it is just fine.
                I'm gonna try this recipe again and see what happens. If the fat does separate again, I will try cooling it down to room temperature before pouring into the ramekins.
                I'll report back here when I do :)

                5 Replies
                1. re: julianabr

                  Some recipes tell you to cool the cooked mixture in an ice bath before pouring into ramekins.

                  1. re: julianabr

                    I'm sure you made sure the cream didn't boil, and I've found it important to check that the sugar is absorbed fully (sorry to say I test with my fingers to make sure it isn't grainy) and then I beat the warm mixture in by putting the bowl it's in in a larger bowl of lukewarm water to make sure it's fully incorporated. It is odd that a recipe with so few ingredients can be so darn tricky, but I've occasionally failed to get the texture I want and can't tell why!! I seem to have more success when I use gelatin sheets rather than powder. But I do think the "beat the mixture" tip increases success.

                    1. re: julianabr

                      Had the cream been previously frozen? That can make it misbehave, and in fact a recent experience melting frozen cream to make truffles may be the only time I have seen cream get a fatty melted butter layer on top. Not really separated like curdled into ricotta, but odd and definitely not homogenized.

                      My buttermilk panna cotta always sets up fine, but when I mix coconut milk and heavy cream for coconut panna cotta, I find stirring the prepared mixture over ice until it starts to thicken works to prevent it from separating into two layers as it sets. That may help with yours.

                      1. re: babette feasts

                        My cream was in the refrigerator before jumping into the heat! Not frozen, but surely very cold. Maybe that was what caused the fat to separate! :)
                        I will try removing the cream from the refrigerator a few hours before and also stirring the mixture over and ice bath. I'll report back to you guys ASAP!

                      2. re: julianabr

                        Cooling to room temperature by placing the pot in an ice water bath whilst whisking is a REALLY IMPORTANT STEP to making the perfect panna cotta & shouldn't be left out of ANY recipe!!!!!!!! I think you'll find that, by adding this step, you shouldn't have ANY more splitting!! Good luck!!!