This rhubarb panna cotta is an easy, dreamily creamy dessert that showcases the sharp, bright taste of rhubarb in three different ways.
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What’s your favorite way to enjoy rhubarb every spring? When I was growing up, my mom would make rhubarb cobblers every year, as well as strawberry-rhubarb crisps during the magical few weeks when the seasons of both fruits overlap. Though I’ve made both of those desserts in my own kitchen, to my taste buds, my mom’s versions remain the best. All I need to do to get a taste of some of my favorite childhood treats again is to visit my parents during rhubarb season, and I’m sure to find either one of those desserts ready to enjoy.
Over the years, I’ve developed a new list of rhubarb-based favorite recipes: I make classics such as compotes, quick breads, and pies, but also more sophisticated treats such as rhubarb gelato, pâtes de fruits, and macarons. What I love most about rhubarb is its tartness, which plays so well with sweeter elements. Just like citrus fruits, I find rhubarb produces deliciously complex, not-too-sweet desserts that I can’t get enough of.
This year, I was obsessed with the idea of making rhubarb panna cotta. In my mind, combining the rich, creamy panna cotta with sharp rhubarb would undoubtedly create a dreamy treat. Fortunately, I still had some of last year’s rhubarb in the freezer, so I was able to experiment and create this memorable dessert.
This Rhubarb Panna Cotta showcases rhubarb three ways: a compote is mixed into the panna cotta itself, giving it a slightly zesty note, and also used to top the rhubarb panna cotta for a pop of color and concentrated rhubarb flavor. Poached rhubarb finishes the elegant dessert for a spectacular presentation. Don’t hesitate to double or triple those batches of compote and poached rhubarb, because I’ll bet you’ll love them on your morning toast or over oatmeal, too!
Yes you can! In this recipe, fresh rhubarb and frozen rhubarb can be used interchangeably. See my tips for freezing rhubarb, below.
Of course, you should use rhubarb while it’s fresh and in season, but make sure to freeze some, too! A bit of thinking ahead in the spring will allow you to enjoy rhubarb desserts, such as this panna cotta, all year long.
To freeze fresh rhubarb, buy several bunches of fresh rhubarb, trim and wash the stalks, cut them into 5-inch (12.5 cm) lengths, and pack into resealable freezer bags. Freeze and you’ll get to enjoy rhubarb desserts all year long! Frozen rhubarb will keep for up to 3 months in a refrigerator freezer, and for up to 1 year in a chest freezer.
Yes you can, and in fact, you should! Panna cotta needs to be refrigerated for several hours to set, so it’s best to make it at least a half-day in advance. You can refrigerate set rhubarb panna cotta for up to 5 days. Always garnish it with the toppings of your choosing (if any!) right before serving.
The type of gelatin I use to make rhubarb panna potta is a dry, grainy powder and it needs to be steeped into a liquid to rehydrate. This step is crucial to creating a super-smooth, creamy panna cotta. Although “blooming” might sound like a technical term (albeit an elegant-sounding one), blooming gelatin is actually super easy. All you need to do is to sprinkle the gelatin over a liquid and leave it to rest, without stirring, for about 5 minutes. After that resting period, you’ll mix in the hot liquid, which will allow the gelatin to fully dissolve and help you create that irresistibly wobbly panna cotta texture.
Powdered gelatin is usually the easiest type of gelatin to find. The brand I use is Knox unflavored gelatin, and it is sold in all North American supermarkets. In Europe, gelatin sheets can be easier to find than powdered gelatin.
If you’ve got gelatin sheets on hand, you can use it to make rhubarb panna cotta. For 1 packet of powdered gelatin (2 1/2 teaspoons), substitute 5 sheets, each measuring about 2-7/8″ x 8-1/2″ (7 cm x 11.5 cm). To rehydrate gelatin sheets, you need to steep them in cold water for 5 minutes. This means you can warm up all the milk and cream together, instead of setting aside 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the milk to bloom the gelatin. Once gelatin sheets are soft, drain and squeeze out excess water. Add to the hot milk and cream mixture and stir until fully dissolved.
It’s easy to make vegan panna cotta. Here’s how:
Substitute plant milk and cream for the regular varieties. I like to use a combination of oat milk and soy cream because they both have a smooth flavor that lets rhubarb take center stage, but you can also use coconut cream.
You can serve panna cotta in cute little glasses as I did on the pictures, or you can serve panna cotta upside down. For a classic look, you can serve this rhubarb panna cotta unmolded, on a plate, with the compote and poached rhubarb spooned to the side. To do so, use ramekins or v-shaped smooth-sided glasses, and very lightly coat the inside of each container with a neutral oil, such as sunflower, canola, or vegetable oil. When ready to serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of the panna cotta, then invert the container over a serving plate and shake it gently. The panna cotta should slip right out.
Maple Panna Cotta / Maple & Orange Panna Cotta / Dairy-Free Almond Panna Cotta
Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.
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Author: Marie Asselin
Looks tasty! What size cups did you use?
The cups I used in the photos are pretty small, probably about 1/3 cup, so this increases the recipe yield to 10.
This is such a beautiful recipe. I love panna cotta and what a brilliant idea to make it with rhubarb – delicious recipe!
The tart fruitness of rhubarb and creaminess of panna cotta complement each other so well. It’s a lovely combination!
Yes I agree this Rhubarb panna cotta is easy dessert! And perfect timing to use our fresh Rhubarb.
Happy you enjoyed this lovely dessert Uma!
These were AMAZING!
I am a massive rhubarb fan and using it 3 ways in a recipe appealed. The sharp rhubarb with the sweet set cream. Delicious and far easier than I thought it was going to be.
I took your advise and doubled the compote recipe and we have been enjoying it on our granola all week!
This is such a great tip!! This compote would a real treat to wake up to 😍
This is the perfect combination of sweet and tart. I have tons of rhubarb in my garden and it was so great to try a new recipe, this panna cotta was so good.
Finding new recipes to use up all that delicious rhubarb can be a challenge! Happy you enjoyed this panna cotta Silvia.
Ahh I love rhubarb so much! I haven’t had it in ages because it’s so hard to come by near me. These panna cotta are absolutely gorgeous for Mother’s Day and such a brilliant seasonal twist.
Thanks for your kind comment Tammy! It’s such a pretty, delicious dessert to serve on Mother’s Day! Plus, you can fully make it in advance, which makes it stress-free too 💆🏼♀️
This was such a delicious dessert and such a great way to enjoy rhubarb! The panna cotta was so creamy, light and perfect for summer or spring!
Thank you for writing Kathryn, happy you enjoyed this delicious panna cotta!
Initially this looked like a very involved dessert recipe. I am happy to say it was not difficult at all and we will be ‘tripling’ this recipe for our 4th of July party.
Panna cotta is a dessert that looks super fancy but is truly easy to make! It’s pretty much endlessly scalable too, so you’re right, it’s a great pick for summer parties.
This panna cotta looks stunning! I can’t wait to make it when rhubarb is finally in season here in Toronto. Side note, I love how the rhubarb matches the colors of your website haha so pretty!
I’m always so excited to see rhubarb pop up at the market every spring! This is one of the first desserts I make with it every year. The color matching is certainly not a coincidence, ha! I love rhubarb pink a lot 😉 I hope you’ll enjoy this panna cotta Veronika!
I just received a bunch of rhubarb from a friend’s garden, and I’m excited to come across this recipe. It’s going to be perfect for Mother’s day dessert!
Gifted rhubarb is the best rhubarb! I hope you enjoyed the panna cotta Colleen.