A Panna Cotta For Adults Only

If you love a Negroni, you'll be smitten by this Negroni panna cotta.
If you love a Negroni, you’ll be smitten by this Negroni panna cotta.

Have you ever wanted to drink your cocktail — and eat it, too?

You most certainly can with this playful “Negroni Panna Cotta.”

Made with gin, Campari, and vermouth just like the classic Italian cocktail, this is one panna cotta you’ll want to reserve only for grown-ups.

The recipe is from “Bar Menu” (Running Press, 2022), of which I received a review copy.

The book is by Andre Darlington, a food and beverage writer based in Philadelphia and North Carolina.

While a few specialty cocktail recipes are included, this is really a collection of recipes for food that pairs with various mixed drinks — from light bites to more substantial noshes to even desserts.

Invite friends and family over for “Jamon Serrano Potato Chips” (sprinkled with baked Serrano ham that’s pulverized in a food processor) to enjoy with sherry cocktails; “Vada Pav” (Indian-style potato sliders) to match with gin & tonic or tequila cocktails; “Vietnamese Chicken Wings” to go with rum-based cocktails; and “Pina Colada Upside-Down Cake” to match with your favorite Caribbean cocktail.

For this “Negroni Panna Cotta,” you just mix the three liquors together and sprinkle with gelatin to soften. Heat heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla together, then stir in the gelatin mixture to dissolve. Divide the mixture among four glasses of your choice, and refrigerate until firm.

The panna cotta has sweetness, but also that wonderful bitter orange edge characteristic of a Negroni. You definitely taste the booze, which lingers on the finish.

Stirred, but not shaken.
Stirred, but not shaken.

The recipe calls for 2 1/4 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin to the 2 cups of heavy cream, which resulted in an overly stiff panna cotta rather than the set yet still slightly jiggly, custardy ideal that it should be. After consulting other panna cotta recipes, I would recommend decreasing the unflavored gelatin amount to 1 1/2 teaspoons instead.

Give that a try, and if you still feel the texture can be improved upon, here’s a trick I learned from a professional pastry chef: Just remelt your panna cotta in a saucepan on the stovetop. If the panna cotta was too stiff, just add a little more heavy cream, then pour into glasses and refrigerate until set once again.

After all, you may want your cocktail to be stiff, but you sure don’t want your panna cotta to be so.

Following the recipe resulted in a too stiff texture. That's why I give a recommendation for reducing the gelatin amount used.
Following the recipe resulted in a too stiff texture. That’s why I give a recommendation for reducing the gelatin amount used.

Negroni Panna Cotta

(Serves 4)

2 ounces gin

1/2 ounce Campari

1/2 ounce sweet vermouth

1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (see explanation above in blog post)

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeded, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Orange zest, for garnish

In a small bowl, combine gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth; stir, and sprinkle gelatin over the surface. Let mixture sand for 5 to 10 minutes for the gelatin to dissolve and soften.

In a medium-size saucepan, heat cream, sugar, and vanilla over medium-high heat; bring to a boil just until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and discard vanilla bean. Whisk gelatin mixture and stir into cream mixture until smooth. If the gelatin hasn’t fully dissolved, return the saucepan to the stove and heat gently over low heat, stirring constantly, taking care not to let the mixture boil.

Divide among bowls or glasses and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, or until completely set. Garnish with orange zest and serve.

Adapted from “Bar Menu” by Andre Darlington

The Perfect Sip Alongside: Tony Negroni

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