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Orange & Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is an Italian dessert, somewhat similar to a custard dessert like creme brûlée, only it is much easier to make because it’s thickened with gelatin instead of eggs. I love the versatility of flavors that are possible with panna cotta! You are welcome to try another variety of citrus in this recipe, or just keep it classic vanilla!

Orange & Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Recipe by Andrea Paul, RD in partnership with Maine Dairy and Nutrition Council

Serves: 6 


1 ½ teaspoon unflavored gelatin 

3 tablespoons water 

1.5 cups plain whole milk Greek yogurt 

1 cup heavy cream 

¼ cup white sugar 

1 vanilla bean, seeds removed 

Zest of 1 medium to large navel orange 

Berry Compote (topping, optional) 

2 cups fresh or frozen mixed berries 

3 tablespoons white sugar 

2 teaspoons corn starch. 


  1. Add gelatin to water in a small bowl. Set aside to allow it to bloom. No stirring required. 
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine ½ cup of the cream and sugar. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, and the liquid just begins to simmer. Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin. Add vanilla bean seeds and orange zest and whisk. 
  3. In a large bowl, mix together yogurt and remaining half cup of cream. Add warm cream mixture and whisk together until combined. 
  4. Pour or spoon into 6 small glasses or ramekins. Divided evenly, each glass should get just over ½ cup of the mixture. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until set. 
  5. To make the berry compote: add berries, sugar, and a splash of water to saucepan. Heat on medium heat until the mixture starts to bubble. 
  6. Use a fork or potato masher to mash up the berries, then whisk in the corn starch. Remove from heat. Allow it to cool for approximately 30 minutes before using it to top the panna cotta. Note: the panna cottas should be entirely set before topping with the berry compote. 

Recipe notes: 

  • Vanilla beans are recommended here because of the extra visual interest they provide, and taste of course. However, feel free to substitute with vanilla extract; 2 teaspoons should do the trick!

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