The choice is yours with this fruity panna cotta

By Amy Watsky


Panna cotta is one of those desserts you end up making way too much of… only to remember you’re in quarantine and have to eat it all by yourself — unless of course, you come up with a clever way to make this dessert stretch and serve double duty.

Don’t get me wrong, panna cotta is amazing, but the usual panna cotta packs in heaps of heavy cream and sugar and can leave you feeling the dizzying effects of a sugar crash. I have the perfect solution for you — just use different ingredients that cut the sweetness and double your palate pleasure by transforming it into a versatile meal. By using Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream, you get a good source of protein fit for breakfast while keeping that creamy texture we all love about panna cotta. Mix in some gelatin, vanilla and sugar to your liking and you’ve got the perfect healthy dessert or desserty breakfast!

Now it’s time to spice it up with a seasonal touch. Noticed all those beautiful citruses lined up at the farmers’ markets? That’s because we grow a lot of them locally! So, let’s use them. If you love lemon bars, Key lime pie, or lemon meringue pie you’re going to love fruit curd. Tangy, sweet, sour, and smooth, it’s everything you want out of a dessert sauce. Top that on a panna cotta, and you’ve got a perfectly balanced breakfast.

The best part about curds is that you can use any type of citrus. For this recipe, I tested out grapefruit, lime, lemon and orange. I recommend that if you do use orange, try to mix it in with a more acidic citrus such as lemon because it can get pretty sweet. This dish is all about balance. If you make a sweeter curd by using oranges or grapefruits, tone down the amount of sugar you put in the panna cotta. If you make the panna cotta too sweet, balance it out with a tangier lemon curd.

Now, if you want this dessert to be more dessert-like, bake a graham cracker crust into the bottom of your ramekin before setting the panna cotta to make mini Key lime “cheesecake” cups. For this recipe, I used stevia to sweeten my panna cotta, but you can use whatever sweetener you’d like and however much of it you want. Feel free to use ramekins, glass jars, or wine glasses for plating.

Don’t feel like making your own curd? Check out Coldwater Canyon’s ( variety of fruit jams every Saturday at Marina del Rey Farmers’ Market! Their honey nectarine jam will pair perfectly for this recipe.

For your citrus fix, check out Polito Farms (@politofarms on Instagram) for a variety of beautiful, locally grown citrus fruits at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market!


Panna cotta

2 cups of Greek yogurt (any kind, any fat percentage)

1 cup of milk (any kind; I used cashew)

1-2 sheets of gelatin (you can also use powdered gelatin for this)

Sugar, to taste

1 tablespoon of vanilla

½ teaspoon of salt

Fruit Curd*

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons of sugar

2 tablespoons of citrus juice

Salt, a shake

1 tablespoon of butter

*(This makes one serving, just multiply by the number of people you’re feeding.)

Recipe Guide

1. To start, soak the sheets of gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, set a small saucepan on the stove and heat up your milk to a gentle simmer.

2. After the gelatin has been soaked, dissolve it into the milk. At the same time, dissolve your sweetener into the milk. Set aside for a few minutes to let cool.

3. Whisk the Greek yogurt, vanilla and salt together. Carefully whisk in the milk mixture until perfectly smooth. I like doing this in a pitcher or a 4-cup measuring cup so it’s easy to pour for the next step.

4. Pour the mixture into each container and set in the fridge until firm.

5. While the panna cottas are setting in the fridge, make your curd. Bring a small saucepan filled a quarter of the way with water up to a boil.

6. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and sugar. Whisk in the citrus juice. Bring the water down to a simmer and place the bowl over it to create a double boiler.

7. Whisk over the heat until it thickens. You’ll see the sugar start to melt, and the mixture become foamy. Whisk until the foam disappears and you’re left with a thick, yellow curd.

8. Place the curd in the fridge until ready to assemble.

9. Once both the panna cotta and the curd are set, spoon some curd onto the panna cotta, and serve for breakfast or dessert!