wild blueberry and vanilla bean panna cotta

July 31st, 2010 § 15

Blueberries are early this year, as were strawberries, raspberries, and just about everything else. The harvest is two weeks early, thanks to a early start to what has been, so far, an exceptionally splendid summer in Québec. The past two summers have been cold and rainy, so this year’s bounty of sunshine and popcorn clouds has been warmly welcome.


It’s really inspired our cooking. This year has been our first real marathon of seasonal summer suppers: fried squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta and basil, gazpacho, cantaloupe soup, corn this and corn that – we can’t cook enough of what’s fresh.


This panna cotta is just what the season is asking for– a soft linen shirt of a dessert that requires more refrigeration than stove time. Be sure to use the smallest wild blueberries you can find – they’re sweeter and more ‘blue’ tasting than the larger ones you often see.


You can use 2% instead of whole milk if you must.


Wild Blueberry and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

from the Williams Sonoma Cooking from the Farmers’ Market cookbook

2 ½ tsp. unflavoured gelatin (1 package)
¼ C whole milk
2 C heavy cream
¼ C sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 C wild blueberries

In a bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the milk. Let stand for about 2 min. In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the cream and sugar. Using a small knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape the seeds into the cream and add the pod. Heat, stirring, until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Let cool briefly.

Remove the vanilla bean. Slowly add the warm cream to the gelatin mixture, stirring constantly until dissolved. Stir in the vanilla extract and blueberries and then pour into four ramekins. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight.

If desired, tun a thin knife around the inside of each ramekin, and invert onto a dessert plate.

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§ 15 Responses to “wild blueberry and vanilla bean panna cotta”

  • Wei-Wei says:

    Those blueberries are so beautiful! I wish that they weren’t so expensive here in China :( (a tiny little box, 4×4x2 inches, for $1.50? I don’t know if that counts as expensive in the USA, but it sure is hella expensive here!) Panna cotta is a great dessert, I think, for the summer. The cold creaminess is divine!


  • Michelle says:

    This looks lovely. I haven’t made a panna cotta yet, but you’re inspiring me to. The photo is gorgeous.

  • hey rob!!!

    do you think i could do this with saskatoon berries? we just picked a bucket full and are thinking of a dessert to do to follow a 3 course “momofuku” asian meal……thoughts?


  • Rob says:

    Hey Alayne,

    For sure, Saskatoons would work just fine. This recipe is VERY easy, so it should be a breeze. The only thing to note is: if you want to remove them from their containers to serve, you will probably want to go with a container a little more shallow than the ones we used. Run a knife around the edge, and if you need to, you might dip the container in hot water for a second to loosen the panna cotta.

    Let me know how it goes. :-)

  • Gorgeous photos! I will have to try this soon…what is a saskatoon??!

  • David says:

    Saskatoon berries are also known as juneberries – they have a flavour like blueberries, but with a mild tang. They’re a traditional ingredient of pemmican and make a terrific jam.

  • Rob says:

    Yes, all true. But Saskatoon berries also also the name sake of my home town, Saskatoon. The area in this region is the only place in the world these little berries grow. My mom used to make pies with these when I was a wee little lad.

  • Jennifer says:

    Hi guys
    I want to make this with the too-many blueberries I got at the market. Sorry to sound like a doofus, but is “heavy cream” 35%?

  • David says:

    Jen, yes, heavy cream is 35%. (Or even 40%, if you’re lucky enough to find it.) And don’t feel like a doofus: you’re forgetting that not so long ago, at one of those rare office lunch parties, you ordered panna cotta for dessert, and I said ‘what’s that?’

  • David says:

    OK Rob, no, sorry, Saskatoon berries do not only grow in Saskatoon. (Such a romantic notion.) They grow in many places throughout North America, including Alaska. Even Sarah Palin could eat them.

  • Rob says:

    Isn’t Wikipedia handy? Perhaps they grow elsewhere, but the fair town is in fact named after them.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thanks! I’ll let you know how it goes.

    And who knew Saskatoon-ites(?) were such a proud tribe?

  • Patricia Doiron says:

    If I cooked, I would so be making this lovely dish The only thing I enjoyed more on this page was the discussion–especially about the homebase of Saskatoons… xx

  • Robin says:

    Love your web site and great photos! Would panna cotta make a good addition to a special breakfast? I’m hosting a morning board meeting and want to serve something cool and sweet, but not yogurt, with a blueberry and raspberry compote topping. Other menu items are pumpkin muffins and quiche. Too rich?

  • David says:

    Sounds like a delicious breakfast. Is there such a thing as too rich? Your board probably won’t think so. I’d recommend a little lemon zest in the compote and not too much sugar, to keep things sparkling. Are you making the quiche, too? We tried our first this morning and it was a little tough. Any tips would be very welcome.