An easy strawberry panna cotta recipe with pistachio, inspired by an afternoon tour of the Roman town of Susa, Italy just across the French Alps.
Before I get to the recipe for Pistachio Strawberry Panna Cotta, let me tell you how I got there first.
Continuing to follow the sun this summer, we stopped for breath in the French Alps. Walking in the clean, mountain air was the best answer in between ice creams and macarons. We also found driving hypnotic: following previous marks on the road left by red-spotted or yellow-tunic supporters during past Tour de France mountain races.
As we were perched in Montgenèvre, Italy was just next door. Italian temptation rang like the tinkling of neighbouring church bells at noon and so we popped over for a sweet few hours. We headed East on the stunning Turin road for the Roman town of Susa in Piedmont, a peaceful sleepy town definitely worth visiting.
Macarons in Susa, Italy
This 'pasticceria' pastry shop was our first sweet welcome, although it was closed for a long lunch (and obviously siesta) when we arrived. You could tell from the window that their macarons were selling as much as their traditional baci di dama (lit: ladies' kisses) biscuits.
Susa's streets gravitate towards the Porta Savoia gate, where the town centre's piazza is marked by the 11th Century San Giusto Cathedral. The gate is also considered by the locals as quite modern, as it was rebuilt during the Middle Ages!
It's hard to believe that these monuments are still standing since their Roman predecessors. Below left is the Augustan Arch, dating back to 8 BC. On the right, the remains of the Roman aqueduct, slightly younger, clocking in at 375 AD.
It's mind-blowing just thinking of the number of gladiators who would have been behind these bars, awaiting their turn to run out into the Roman Ampitheatre to a roar of excited spectators, hungry for action.
After testing the perfect acoustics of the Ampitheatre pretending to be an opera singer, it was time to make a sharp exit since I was embarrassing hubby and the girls. Running after them, it didn't take long to discover they were already choosing ice creams from the piazza's La Bottega del Gelate.
I also tried to go posh, Pierre Hermé style, and pick a chocolate and passion fruit combination. The passion fruit was rather synthetic but the chocolate was good (although I wanted Baci - chocolate ice cream with hazelnut like Perigina's 'kiss' chocolates). Our overall winner was voted as pistachio as there must have been real Italian pistachios in there.
Best Sicilian Pistachios in France
As we checked out the local grocery stores for pistachios, we found the best deal and quality at our local Carrefour supermarket, full of interesting Italian produce.
Quickly cleaning out their stock of Sicilian pistachios, I couldn't wait to try them back home: liberally added to weekend brioche, gluten free chocolate pistachio brownies - or pistachio and chocolate-pistachio macarons from my book, Mad About Macarons.
It's not just the flavour but the pistachio colouring (see this post about it) has to look realistic, don't you think?
What is Panna Cotta?
Panna Cotta is a chilled Italian dessert, meaning literally a 'Cooked Cream'. That's basically it. The cream is heated and infused with vanilla or some kind of flavour and a little sugar. It's then chilled and set with the help of gelatine. Some desserts include a set coulis or fruit purée, like this one made of strawberries.
Mini Strawberry Panna Cottas - Perfect Party Desserts
It didn't take long before I made a few panna cottas for a party last weekend. Rose and griotte cherry panna cottas were on the menu but above all, these simple pistachio and strawberry panna cotta desserts. I'd also mixed some pistachio panna cottas with griotte cherry coulis.
Serve With Pistachio Macarons!
Needless to add that panna cottas go deliciously well with macarons! I completely forgot about this packaging bought in a baking supply shop in Rouen. It's handy to transport your macarons since the little tower centrepiece has a cover that you can easily clip around them.
Recipe for Strawberry Panna Cotta with Pistachio
Strawberry Panna Cotta with Pistachio
- 3 @2g gelatine sheets
- 400 ml (14fl oz) whipping cream (30% fat) (French crème fleurette)*
- 100 ml (3.5fl oz) whole milk
- 4 tablespoon caster sugar (superfine)
- 1 tablespoon pistachio paste *see NOTES
- 3 drops pistachio or almond extract
- 1 @2g gelatine leaf
- 300 g (10oz) strawberries
- 50 g (1.75oz) caster sugar (superfine)
- Soak the 3 gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes.
- Heat the cream, milk, sugar and pistachio paste in a saucepan. Once heated through, squeeze the gelatine of excess water and stir it into the warm cream until melted. Add the pistachio extract then pour into serving glasses.
- Cool for 15 minutes then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
- Just before the creams are set, prepare the coulis. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes. Whizz together the strawberries and sugar in a blender or food processor. Microwave 3 tablespoon on high for 30 seconds, and melt in the gelatine (squeezed of excess water).
- Set aside to cool and when the creams are set, pour on the coulis and continue to chill in the fridge for at least another 30 minutes.
Hi! I love panna cotta, but hard to find Where I live,(Miami, USA), So I’ll have to try making it myself. Your recipe sounds wonderful as I love everything in your ingredients. However, I need a little help with some of the ingredients that I need to find here. I hope you forgive my ignorance , but what is crème fleurette? I think I can Get The Other ingredients. Thank you so much if you’re able to reply.
So happy you like this. No excuses - it's confusing on both sides of the pond at times! I've marked French crème fleurette in the recipe as whipping cream - but is that not right in the USA? If that's the case, use heavy whipping cream, if that helps. You're looking at 30-35% fat (it's balanced using some whole milk too). If it helps, I've compiled this list of equivalents of French-UK-USA baking/cooking terms. Hope this helps!
Hi It's delicious but I'm supouse that pistachio panna cotta combine whit raspberry coulis that i can use the amount strawberry instead in the recipe.
Yes, no problem in replacing the strawberry coulis with raspberry. Another dream team with pistachio!
Purabi Naha | Cosmopolitan Currymania
Your macarons are a pleasure to watch. They look perfect and I am sure they taste as good! Loved the panna cotta with these lovely macarons.
I need a baci macaron and a trip to France. Enjoy following your recommended places to travel.
Love reading about all your adventures and pictures of macarons, Jill.
Nothing wrong with pretending to be an opera singer Jill or even embarrassing your children. I've done both many a time. Would sure like to follow you on your travels though. I love Italy and macarons and panna cotta and ice cream and .... all of the blog.
Thanks, Thomasina and Jamie - fun to hear we have the same tastes, including embarrassing the kids!
Ha you are so funny. But I like that you go to another stunning location and yet mostly think of ice cream. We do need to travel together! And excellent flavor choices! And you know, I have wanted to make pistachio panna cotta but never had. Now I need to go buy pistachio paste and make this! Yours are just stunning with the strawberry coulis!
Liz, you're welcome to pop in any time! Mardi, glad to hear I'm not alone for having a weak spot with Baci chocolates (the best part are the wee messages inside...) and Jean-Pierre - glad to hear you're making these panna cottas. Do try and get good pistachios for them, if you can.
It has been a while since I made panna cotta. I forgot how easy it looks - thanks for the shove, Jill. Susa? Hadn't heard of this place before so loved the tour!
Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)
Oh Jill, YUMMMM! Bacis are (and have always been) one of my fave chocs. And paired with this panna cottta? Heaven!
Wow, the architecture is amazing! I need to get to Susa one day 🙂 And I'd also love to stop at your place for lunch if this is the sort of spread I'd find. What a lovely little side trip you took.