These Grand Marnier Panna Cotta hearts tick all the boxes! Super easy, no bake, make ahead, full of flavor, gluten free, light, elegant.
And only 6 ingredients! What more could a busy hostess ask of a dessert?
I was pleasantly surprised at how much flavor this light dessert delivered. In a taste test the Grand Marnier Panna Cotta tied with the Ricotta Amaretto Cheesecake. I think it is really a matter of whether you prefer Amaretto or Grand Marnier! When you factor in how easy this is to make it is a real winner!
You can use full fat ricotta and sour cream or low fat if you want to keep it light. It is a very forgiving recipe.
You can switch up the liqueur to the flavor of your choice. The Grand Marnier was nice because it is quite a strong, distinct flavor but I am sure other fruity liqueurs would also work well.
Have Fun With the Presentation
This elegant dessert is so easy to make you can really have fun with the presentation!
For the simplest presentation you can let the panna cotta set in one large bowl and just serve it at the table.
Or you can divide it into individual serving bowls and garnish them with fruit and chocolate.
I broke chocolate bars into pieces and put them into a heat proof bowl (like Pyrex). I set the bowl in a sauce pan with a couple of inches of water and brought the water to a boil. When the water boiled I turned off the heat and let the bowl sit in the hot water. Stir it up until chocolate is melted and smooth. This method is faster than a double boiler and will not burn the chocolate. The microwave works too but you need to do it in 30 second bursts and stir and check to make sure you don't burn the chocolate.
I let the chocolate cool a bit and then poured it into a plastic bag with a tiny hole in one corner. I drizzled it out on parchment paper into random shapes. Don't get your heart set (no pun intended) on perfect shapes because it isn't easy to totally control a very pliable plastic bag! Random and abstract can look very creative!
For more elegant entertaining you can serve the panna cotta in chocolate dessert shells. With 2 chocolate bars and a candy mold you are in business. Believe me -they look like a LOT more work than they are.
Or, you can pour the panna cotta into an interesting mold and then plate the forms. I used heart shaped molds I happened to have because I was thinking Valentine presentation but there are lots of interesting molds out there!
The other really fun thing is if you pour it into a larger pan say 9 X 13 " you can cut out all kinds of shapes with a cookie cutter. I used heart cookie cutters but think about the cookie cutter shapes out there- snowflakes, fall leaves, Easter bunnies, snow men, trees, butterflies. Pick a cookie cutter that suits the season and you can turn this into a really fun dessert.
Depending on the serving size you can serve the panna cotta as the dessert with garnishes or if you use small cookie cutters the panna cotta could be the garnish for a bowl of fresh fruit or chocolate pudding.
You can make the panna cotta a day or two ahead. You can add the chocolate garnish but add the fruit garnish the day you are serving.
However you serve it up - enjoy!
Gran Marnier Panna Cotta
- 1 pkg unflavored gelatin (equals 1 Tbsp)
- ¼ cup boiling water
- 1 lb ricotta cheese
- 2 Tbsps sour cream
- 2 tablespoon Grand Marnier liqueur (or liqueur of your choice)
- 4 oz chocolate bar (at least 70% ) for garnish
- 5 strawberries sliced for garnish (or substitute black berries)
- Drain ricotta in a fine sieve about 15 minutes.
- Add gelatin to boiling water and let stand 1-2 minutes til jelly like.
- Whisk ricotta, gelatin, sour cream and Gran Marnier in food processor until smooth. This may take a couple of minutes. Test the mixture to make sure it is not grainy.
- Pour mixture into individual serving dishes, pan or molds and chill at least 2 hours. (If you want to unmold the panna cotta after it sets, spray your mold or dish with cooking spray before filling. To unmold- let your mold sit in warm water a minute or so before turning the panna cotta out onto your serving dish. Don't let it sit too long or it will start to melt the pudding.)
- Break chocolate bar into pieces and put in a heat proof bowl. Set the bowl in a sauce pan with an inch or so of water. Bring water to a boil over medium heat on the stove. Stir chocolate to make sure there are no lumps. This only takes a couple of minutes.
- Let chocolate cool a bit but make sure it is still runny. Pour into a plastic bag or decorator tube and drizzle shapes onto parchment paper. Chill until chocolate resets.
- Clean and slice strawberries.
- Garnish panna cotta with chocolate and strawberries. Keep chilled until ready to serve.