Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Brandied Apricots

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Brandied Apricots ~ this cool eggless custard with a silky texture is easy to make and always popular. It’s the perfect summer dessert!

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta is for those who appreciate incredible texture in their desserts…

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.

Sweet tart apricots are the perfect base for my silky panna cotta

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.

I love to serve dessert in individual little Mason jars

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.

I’m crushing on apricots lately!

5 from 1 vote

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Brandied Apricots

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Brandied Apricots ~ this cool eggless custard with a silky texture is easy to make and always popular.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours
Yield 4 -8 servings
Author Sue Moran


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.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

panna cotta pin

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  • 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.

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