Vanilla panna cotta with mixed berry compote

I have a confession to make. I love shopping at Costco. My heart starts to pound when I see 1.5kgs of butter and my palms get itchy walking by the 1kg peanut butter jars and 2kg cream cheese blocks. I could often be seen at the front of the line when a new batch of sample steaks are about ready and I would rarely say no when staff offer me free cheese to try. When my mum and I joined Costco, we literally spent $400-500 each time we shopped there. In fact, I think she still does.

My rational is that sometimes it’s just convenient to buy things in bulk when you know you need it for say a large party, or because well, they just look so cool (how awesome would it be if you built a house with butter bricks? It might melt in the sun but still…) and Costco is so far away from me so I have to get more of what I need in one go….ok…deep breathe.

Of course, one of the issues that come with buying in bulk is buying too much of something that you possibly won’t need or use for a very long time (talking from experience here) and it’s bad when the product is perishable (duh), tiny bit better if it can be frozen (if you have the freezer space).

Just the other day, I was digging through Yuye’s freezer and found a bag of mixed frozen berries that I haven’t seen for a long time. I panicked. It had 500g of berries left and was nearing its expiry date. A lot of recipes went through my head at that moment, in a frantic struggle to not let a perfectly good bag of berries go to waste.

The recipe that I settled on was this lovely vanilla panna cotta with mixed berry compote. The compote turned out a little more watery than I wanted but that’s because the berries were not as fresh. You can tell if the berries had huge clumps of ice stuck to them, signalling that you will get a lot of water in your compote. If you used fresh berries or a fresh bag of frozen berries, it should turn out a lot better.

I also made the mistake of putting the panna cotta in glasses that were too large, so they ended up only filling 3 glasses but should actually fill 4 regular ones. As a result, I also struggled to finish one glass by myself. Yuye didn’t seem to mind the size though and even ate my left over portion. Considering he doesn’t usually have a sweet tooth, it must mean that he thought they were quite delicious. 😀

I made a mental note that next time I buy a bag of these frozen berries, I need to have a few recipes lined up first.

Also feel free to substitute mixed berries with just one type such as blueberries as this will also turn out very well.

Vanilla panna cotta with mixed berry compote
Total time: 6 hours 20 mins
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking & setting time: 6 hours
Serves 4
Adapted from David Lebovitz


For the panna cotta
• 2 cups heavy cream (if you don’t like it as creamy, you can use half cream and half milk)
• 50g caster sugar
• 1/2 vanilla bean (cut lengthwise and seeds scraped out) or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 tbsp unflavoured powdered gelatin
• 2 tbsp cold water

For the berry compote
• 120g frozen mixed berries
• 30g caster sugar
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (can be omitted)


1. Combine cream and 50g sugar in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add in vanilla bean seeds and pod (or vanilla extract) and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Discard vanilla bean pod.
2. Pour the 2 tbsp cold water in a small bowl, add in gelatine powder and let sit for roughy 10 minutes – do not stir.
3. Pour simmered cream mixture over gelatine and stir until all the gelatine is dissolved.
4. Pour cream mixture into 4 serving glasses or ramekins and leave in the fridge to set for a few hours or overnight.
5. Put frozen mixed berries, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan and heat on medium high until melted and soft. Stirring occasionally to melt the sugar.
6. Take off heat and cool.
7. When the panna cotta has set, in the fridge and ready to be served, spoon berry compote over the serving glasses and top with a mint leaf. Serve chilled.

Panna cottas are so easy to make and can be made ahead of time so they are perfect party finishers that can wow guests.

Question time: Do you like to buy ingredients in bulk or do you like to shop more often and buy in smaller portions?

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30 comments… add one
  • Rosa August 22, 2012, 1:20 am

    A delightful panna cotta! That compote must taste so good…



    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake August 23, 2012, 10:35 am

      Thanks Rosa! 🙂 We ate all of the between the 2 of us, I admit I was a little sick of cream after that but it was still quite delicious. The berry compote really helped to cut the heaviness which was good.

  • yummychunklet August 22, 2012, 5:56 am

    I love, love, love the look of that mixed berry compote. Yum!

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake August 23, 2012, 10:34 am

      It was yummy indeed. 🙂 Would have been better with fresh berries though. When summer comes around, I will make this again with fresh ones!

  • Hotly Spiced August 22, 2012, 7:07 am

    I’ve only been to Costco once and I spent about that much too. I love the look of your dessert Jenny. It’s so pretty and the presentation is beautiful. I always find it difficult when making individual desserts to have the right serving dishes on hand. I never seem to have the right sized cup or bowl and I’d love to buy more but I just don’t have the space xx

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake August 23, 2012, 10:34 am

      I know what you mean! One of my friends loves preparing individual servings and she has boxes of cute little cups and things. I need to find some more but you’re right about no space in the house!

  • Ames August 22, 2012, 10:25 am

    I love to buy in bulk (mainly for the price) but we don’t have that much fridge space and we don’t usually plan far enough ahead to be able to make good use of all the products if we were to buy in bulk. Been to COSTCO twice and loved it – especially the $2 hotdogs hehe

    Lovely photos as always, you seriously have skills, m’dear! 🙂

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake August 23, 2012, 10:33 am

      I’ve actually never tried the $2 hotdogs…:P The line is always too long and I couldn’t wait around because parking’s going to expire! You’ll often find me running to the ticket machine which gives you an extra half hour when you put the ticket in. 😛

  • Sanjeeta KK August 23, 2012, 1:01 am

    Thanks for dropping by…what a spectacular panna cotta this looks! Beautiful clicks.

  • Asmita August 23, 2012, 1:07 am

    Panna-cotta has to be one of my favorite desserts ever especially in the summer. I find it it so light and refreshing.
    Your’s looks amazing with the wonderful blueberry sauce. Lovely presentation!

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake August 23, 2012, 10:30 am

      Oh it’s one of my favourites too! It’s definitely a good change from the heavy cakes, not to mention very easy to make!

  • kitchenriffs August 23, 2012, 7:23 am

    I love all the cool stuff you can get at Costco. But the sizes are just too much (there are only two of us). So we no longer go, alas. Anyway, nice looking panna cotta. The mixed berry compote looks superb. And the presentation is very attractive.

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake August 23, 2012, 10:29 am

      We are also a 2 people team and when I took home the butter and choc chips, he stared at me for a long time and said ‘you better use them’. 😛 I guess in terms of butter is ok, but fresh things not so much…

  • Carolyn Jung August 23, 2012, 10:49 am

    Gorgeous looking! I love how you can make this the day before serving, too. Perfect for a dinner party. And it’s so adaptable to whatever fruit is in season. Lovely dessert. 😉

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook August 23, 2012, 4:20 pm

    Jenny, we can hang out in Costco! We go every week and drop $ there (and get hotel points from credit card which is not bad – haha). Well, I’m terrified by the amount of butter though (lol), and I also don’t like super-big package, instead of multiple smaller portion package… Anyway, I came here to say how beautiful your panna cotta is. Love love looooove your presentation. I can easily eat two servings if pnna cotta is this delicious!

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious August 23, 2012, 4:26 pm

    Costco is my sanctuary too! And this panna cotta is incredibly stunning!

  • Yasmeen @ Wandering Spice August 23, 2012, 6:17 pm

    What a gorgeous presentation! I adore panna cotta – this is certainly a recipe I’d love to try. Also… I’m with you on Costco for entertaining. The place drives me mad if I don’t have a mission (ie: feeding 10 people this weekend) but for cocktail parties, dinners, etc, it can’t be beat!

  • Miss Kimbers @ Fruit Salad and Mixed Veg August 23, 2012, 7:31 pm

    I would pay money for this! So pretty!

  • Xuan @ My Kitchen Fixation August 24, 2012, 7:04 am

    Oh my goodness! These look absolutely awesome. I’m in the same boat – I have so many blueberries and I have absolutely NO idea what to do with them. I’m definitely going to try these very soon. I wonder if I can do this with 2% milk…

  • Suzanne August 26, 2012, 6:35 am

    Oh this dessert looks so beautiful and fresh perfect for the hot Summer months!

  • nipponnin August 29, 2012, 11:47 am

    Gorgeous photos! My husband loves penna cotta. I must make this prompt! By the way, you’re very funny! I’m proud member of Costco too!

  • hollie October 23, 2012, 2:48 am

    They are soooo beautiful, jenny wonderful! I have just checked them after leaving them overnight and am ready to eat just have to make compote with raspberries and blueberries! so excited thank you for saving what was a disastrous dinner party! x

  • hollie October 23, 2012, 2:57 am

    was wondering what is a 2 cups measure in mls? 2 cups is very general and i have many cups of all sizes so was confused about this? if you could find out volume in mls for this recipe i would appreciate it thank you xx

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake October 23, 2012, 10:51 am

      Hi holly! Thanks for visiting my blog and trying this recipe! I use standard Australia measuring cups which equals 250mls per cup, so 2 cups would roughly be 500mls. Hope that helps. 🙂

  • betty April 2, 2015, 6:47 am

    Has anyone tried doubling this recipe or is it better just to make it twice – not sure how gelatin performs if doubled.

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake April 2, 2015, 11:31 am

      Doubling the recipe shouldn’t be a problem, as long as you dissolve the gelatin properly and mix it well. If you keep the whole thing in one container though it might take a tiny bit longer to set in the fridge since it won’t cool as quickly. Hope you like the recipe!

      • betty April 3, 2015, 12:54 pm

        Thanks for the reply.
        You mention that the recipe can be made ahead of time. Can it be made a day ahead or only hours? It’s going to be a lovely addition to my Easter dinner.


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