top of page


Sweet Panna Cotta dessert and dairy free option.

This is an Italian dessert that translates as ‘cooked cream’. It is an eggless custard that is made in about 5 minutes, tastes truly sublime and would be suitable for a special Dinner i.e. Valentine dessert for you and your other half. It has a very rich flavor without being too rich or heavy to eat. Serve it alone or with a chocolate or raspberry sauce. It tastes like the best Ben and Jerry vanilla ice cream without the freeze.

One of my August 2011 recipes for National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, now Beyond Celiac. I also taught this as part of a gluten free, dairy free, egg free class for Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) of Dallas Fort Worth.

Gluten Free Sweet Panna Cotta dessert and dairy free option

¼ c (60 ml) water

1 envelope unflavored gelatin (7g or ¼ oz weight – sold in bakery section by Knox in small, orange boxes of 5 or 6 envelopes. 2+1/4 tsp per envelope)

2 cups (16 fl oz, 480 ml) of heavy cream (or 15-16 oz can Asian style coconut cream)

6 tablespoons sugar

1-2 teaspoons gluten free real vanilla extract

4 tsps rum – optional


I have made this with Asian style coconut milk (2g sugar to 2oz/1/4 cup coconut milk) and Piña Colada coconut milk (48g sugar to 2oz/1/4 c coconut milk). The Piña Colada style coconut milk has a far richer texture but without adding the sugar in the recipe it was still quite sweet to me. Ask at your Asian grocer for an Asian style coconut cream (Aroy-D coconut cream brand 33.8 fl oz carton or 1lb can, shelf stable. Aroy-D has same mouth feel as heavy cream), and add sugar as per recipe or to your taste. I have also tried this with the refrigerated coconut milk and it was watery and tasteless to me. Don't use 'lite' coconut milk, it's thickened with xanthan gum to make it thick, but less flavor.

1. Sprinkle the contents of the gelatin packet over the quarter cup of water in a small microwave safe cup. Stir in. The gelatin will look like a thick paste as it mixes with the liquid. Dry it looks like fine sand. Stand for 5 minutes. Then melt the gelatin in the microwave for about 15 seconds. It will look see through but a pale browny color. It is very important to ensure the gelatin totally dissolves otherwise you will not have a totally smooth custard. It will have chewy bits in it from the undissolved gelatin.

2. Heat 1 cup heavy cream, sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a 4 cup microwave safe bowl or jug in the microwave. Slowly heat until the sugar is dissolved. DO NOT BOIL, THERE IS NO NEED. Add second cup of heavy cream and dissolved gelatin.

3. Taste a teaspoon of the mixture and decide if you want to add 1-2 tablespoons more sugar or the second teaspoon of vanilla extract. Add rum to taste or other liqueur.

4. Moisten a small piece of paper towel with a tasteless oil (not evo olive, sesame, peanut oil etc) and wipe the oil around the inside of four ½ cup ramekins, cocotte dishes or custard cups. You could even use regularly shaped tea cups as molds if you don’t own ramekins etc. Wal-Mart, Target and kitchen stores sell both custard cups and ramekins varying widely in prices depending on brand and what material they are made of. Stand the ramekins in a dish such as a 9” pie plate.

5. Use a half cup measure to carefully ladle custard into the ramekins. Leave to cool, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Once the custard is set firm like any gelatin mold, run around the inside edge with a thin knife or spatula to loosen the custard and then invert onto individual small serving plates and shake to loosen. You can also stand the custards in hot water reaching about half way up the sides for 10 seconds to loosen the custard before turning out.

6. Serve as they are or finish with fresh fruit, fruit sauce or fresh (not Hershey) chocolate sauce.

Options; I have tried making these by adding 4 teaspoons of liqueur to the total liquid custard quantity (that is 1 teaspoon per individual cup) but I really prefer the simple flavor of vanilla. You can try adding 1 teaspoon of liqueur to one ramekin and see what you like. I have tried Grand Marnier and Kahlua, as well as lemon zest but I still prefer plain vanilla. My husband wanted more than 1 teaspoon of Kahlua in his. You make the decision. You can also use a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract but at $6 for a single bean in the supermarket I didn’t think many people would buy one.

Featured Posts
Follow Me
  • Grey YouTube Icon
  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey Pinterest Icon
  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
No tags yet.
Gluten Free e-Cookbook
bottom of page