Dessert Romantic Summer

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Brandied Apricots

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Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Brandied Apricots ~ this cool eggless custard with a silky texture is easy to make and always popular.

I have two big bags of apricots and peaches fresh from the farmer’s market this weekend. The only problem is, you don’t get the luxury of time with ripe fruit like this.  You have to be on your toes, pick a plan of action and get right to it.  He who hesitates is lost.  I know because I’ve hesitated, and lost, many times before.

This panna cotta seemed like a good first plan, one, because I’ve never made it before and two, it only required sacrificing a few of my apricots.  I stewed them in a little sugar, water, brandy, and vanilla and  that alone turned out to be worth the price of admission.  I even spooned a little of the hot apricots over a small mound of vanilla ice cream so I could report back to you.  It was possibly the best topping for ice cream I’ve ever tasted and I seriously could have stopped right there.

Panna Cotta is Italian for baked cream.  It’s related to custard, flan, crème brûlée, coeur de crème,
pot de crème, and mousses, but it’s probably the simplest of all of them.  There is no tricky cooking with eggs involved—the gelatin thickens the cream and is practically foolproof.  It’s a good one to make for guests because practically everyone likes it.  It’s cool silky light texture makes it a perfect hot weather dessert.

Sometimes you’ll see panna cotta served little jars or bowls, like I’ve done, and other times you’ll see it turned out onto bowls or plates.  It can be plain, or made along with a sauce of some sort, either under it or over it. Usually it’s served in fairly small sized portions, mine are a little on the large side.  I could have portioned out 6 or even 8 smaller servings.  I based my panna cotta on this recipe.


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Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Brandied Apricots ~ this cool eggless custard with a silky texture is easy to make and always popular. #pannacotta #apricots #custard #easy #homemade #recipe #vanilla #vanillabean #apricots #gelatin #dessert

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Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Brandied Apricots


For the panna cotta

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • one 1/4 oz packet 2 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin

for the brandied apricots:

  • 5 apricots pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brandy or Cognac
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  • Put the apricots, sugar, and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and simmer the apricots for about 3 minutes, just until they soften but haven't broken down.  Remove the apricots with a slotted spoon and layer them at the bottom of your serving dishes or jars.
  • Add the brandy and lemon juice and boil the sauce for another 10 minutes or so, until it is reduced to a thick syrup.  Take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Pour the syrup evenly over the apricots, about a tablespoon or so over each jar, don't drown the apricots.
  • Meanwhile make the panna cotta---Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan, and add the vanilla bean seeds and the bean itself.  Bring it up to a simmer.  Turn off the heat and let it steep for about 10 minutes.
  • Remove the vanilla bean pod, and add the sugar to the pan.  Reheat the mixture and stir, just until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Takeoff the heat.
  • Put 2 tablespoons of boiling water in a small glass and sprinkle the gelatin over it.  Let it sit for  a few minutes while the gelatin softens.
  • Stir the gelatin into the water until it is completely dissolved.  Whisk it into the hot milk and cream mixture and blend it well.
  • Carefully pour the mixture into the serving jars, filling to the top.  Try not to disturb the apricots too much.
  • Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours.

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    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    I Wilkerson
    July 24, 2014 at 9:52 am

    I am making some brandied plums right now (bought a whole case of plums that aren’t lasting as long as I’d hoped) and may try a variation on this after they have marinated a bit longer. Loved your comment about your daughter’s brief stay–per current plans, that will be us next year, except Edinburgh instead of Dublin.

    • Reply
      July 24, 2014 at 10:42 am

      This was my husband’s favorite of all the jams I’ve made, so I hope you do try it! It’s an adventure having a child study abroad, Edinburgh sounds wonderful!

  • Reply
    Cathy at Wives with Knives
    May 31, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Apricots are one of my favorite summer fruits. Love this way of serving it, Sue. What is it about individual size servings that everybody likes so much?

  • Reply
    From Beyond My Kitchen Window
    May 31, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I imagine you are thrilled to have your daughter home, even if it is just a day. The panna-cotta with brandied apricots looks delicious.

  • Reply
    Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
    May 30, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Oh wow, this looks fantastic! And definitely the perfect summer dessert. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve kicked myself from letting good fruit (or veggies) “go”…I hate it. Now, send one or three of those my way, please!

  • Reply
    shannon weber
    May 30, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    here’s what: you say vanilla bean? i’m there. you say apricots? I’m still there. I’m all over this.

  • Reply
    May 30, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I never quite know what to do with apricots because I find they are either super good or super bad…but in this panna cotta they could only possibly be super good!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      May 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      I know exactly what you mean, and I do think cooking transforms them even when they’re a little blah in the raw.

  • Reply
    Magnolia Verandah
    May 30, 2013 at 3:25 am

    Love panna cotta! And brandied apricots yum yum…………..

  • Reply
    Kitchen Belleicious
    May 30, 2013 at 2:48 am

    oh my goodness. What to say first. The idea of homemade vanilla panna cotta is one thing but you upped the anty by adding in the vanilla bean and brandy. YUM YUM YUM!

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    May 29, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    How fun would this be to take on a picnic in those fun little jars, it loos wonderful Sue. Have fun with Molly, I know every minute is precious!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      May 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      The only thing I noticed, Chris, is that gelatin melts back to liquid at room temp, so you’d have to keep them cold if they were going on a picnic.

  • Reply
    belleau kitchen
    May 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    never been a huge fan of panna cotta but i’m getting through apricots by the dozen at the moment as they’re a great source of roughage although i’m not sure the brandy is quite as good!… beautiful pics as always x

  • Reply
    May 29, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    I made my first panna cotta ever last month and there is no turning back.

  • Reply
    La Table De Nana
    May 29, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    I am a sucker for little jars:) Cute cute!

  • Reply
    Patty Price
    May 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    I’m sure your vanilla bean panna cotta would stand on it’s own as a lovely dessert but with the brandied out for an even more flavorful and delicious treat! I love apricots and while I didn’t see any at our farmer’s market last week, they will most likely put in an appearance next week or very soon;-) Your recipe index is amazing to see-so many interesting recipes to try-thanks for all your inspiration!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      May 29, 2013 at 6:54 pm

      Thanks Patty—we do get things a little early in Los Angeles, but the apricots and peaches come and go so quickly I like to pounce on them early.

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    May 29, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I could go for some ripe apricots right now – stewed with sugar and brandy – wow. I bet that is delicious – especially on ice cream or in a panna cotta. These are so pretty and I adore the presentation in the jars.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      May 29, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Oh my gosh, on the ice cream it was crazy! I think I have to stew up the rest of the apricots to keep in reserve for the rest of the summer.

  • Reply
    Averie @ Averie Cooks
    May 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Sue this is gorgeous! I have never made panna cotta and I don’t know why! You have just set my wheels turning! And I looooove apricots. Such a special little fruit. And brandied apricots…wow, just wow!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      May 29, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      Lately I’ve really been appreciating how a little cooking intensifies the flavors and colors of fruit— the apricots were just explosive.