Yogurt Panna Cotta with Pineapple Granita

January is the land of resolutions and good intentions, so I thought I would start off the month with a recipe that is relatively guilt-free. I have become a huge fan of panna cottas for entertaining. They are ridiculously easy to make and can be prepared hours (or days!) in advance.

This recipe combines a tangy yogurt panna cotta with a sweet pineapple granita and is a sunny end to any mid-winter meal. We enjoyed these on New Years Day following some less guilt-free tacos and salsa (more on that later). If you want to make an even simpler dessert, the panna cotta could also be served with a spoonful of jam (or granola?) and the pineapple granita is great on its own.

Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone and made a cookie to do with these, but I’ll save that for tomorrow. For now, you can hold on to those resolutions.

Yogurt Panna Cotta with Pineapple Granita (recipe adapted from Jansen Chan via Food & Wine, March 2010)

Panna Cotta

  • 1 cup low-fat (1% or 2%) milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons plain powdered gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/3 cup fat-free sour cream (or reduced fat)
  • 1 1/2 cups plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (a few drops)

Pineapple Granita

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pineapple (1 3/4 pounds)—peeled, cored and quartered
  • Pinch of salt

In a large saucepan, heat the milk with the sugar over low heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until softened, 3 minutes. Scrape the gelatin into the warm milk and let cool completely.

In a medium bowl, whisk the sour cream with the yogurt, lime juice and vanilla. Whisk in the milk and pour the panna cotta into 6 glasses (number of glasses will depend on how large you want these to be). Refrigerate until set, 3 hours.

In a saucepan, cook the water and sugar over moderate heat, stirring, just until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool completely.

Cut three-fourths of the pineapple into chunks, transfer to a blender and puree; strain into the saucepan with the sugar syrup, pressing hard on the solids. Discard the pulp. Stir the salt into the pineapple puree and pour it into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Freeze for 30 minutes. Using a fork, stir the granita. Continue freezing, stirring every 30 minutes, until the granita is icy and fluffy, about 3 hours.

Cut the remaining pineapple into thin slices. Fluff the granita with a fork and spoon it over the panna cottas. Garnish with the pineapple slices and serve right away.

16 comments to “Yogurt Panna Cotta with Pineapple Granita”

  1. This sounds fabulous. Thanks for giving me a taste of summer!

  2. Wow, the color of the Pineapple Granita is stunning. I would never have thought to pair panna cotta and granita together.

  3. Is sour cream missing from the ingredients?

  4. Agnes! Thank you, yes! It was missing, but fixed now.
    Lisa, you have to believe in the power of panna cotta. Also, be sure you let the gelatin sit in water to soften and then stir into warm liquid to dissolve. shouldn’t be a problem. Sometimes panna cotta recipes call for too much gelatin and can get weird.

  5. Tim, the last time I made panna cotta, it had evil little gelatin lumps. Do you know how I could prevent this? I really want to make this recipe!

  6. I think I can…I think I can… (Thanks, Tim!)

  7. looks fantastic, I have to try this guilt-free version of Panna Cotta.
    Thanks for sharing

  8. I’ve grown fond of panna cotta for all the reasons you mention, Tim, and also because they are a totally cool dessert to serve when you’re cooking for a gluten intolerant person, as I do on frequent occasion. No one else feels in the least bit slighted (though you may have to hold the cookie.) I also love the extreme versatility of the panna cotta, fashioning it to compliment just about any season or meal. Once again, though, you knock me backward with your fresh approach… granita. This is why I keep reading you, Dear Amazing Tim!!!

  9. rhetta bell says:

    January 5th, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Looks good from Alaska, but for one thing – could you offer a vegetarian solution for the gelatin?
    We would love to feature this over some crepes at our next after ski brunch!

  10. Hi Rhetta,
    Sorry, I haven’t tried this with any gelatin substitutes so I can’t speak from experience. I would try the vegetarian unflavored Kojel, which usually substitutes easily for traditional gelatin. Good luck!

  11. I adore granitas… and this is a creative ideas to use them as topping to panna cotta. Almond panna cotta with almond milk granita? Or chocolate panna cotta with coffee granita? Happy new year!!!

  12. P.s. I like that you have replaced the “panna” (heavy cream) that is typical used to make this dessert with lower fat dairy options, like 2% milk, sour cream and Greek yogurt! Great light spin!

  13. i did a trial run with this recipe (and the coconut stick cookies, also), wanting to be sure we liked it before serving at a party this week. Um, why would I ever doubt you or your beautiful pictures? It was absolutely delicious, so light and refreshing. A burst of tropical sunshine in a week that hasn’t been above freezing; thanks for another wonderful recipe!
    P.S. It’s so fun to tell people who ask, “What is this?” “Yogurt Panna Cotta with Pineapple Granita and Coconut Stick Cookies.” I mean, how skilled and cultured does that make me sound? :) thanks, Tim.

  14. Made this last night as a [planned] midnight snack, it was glorious! easy! and I will definitely be pleasing crowds with it on future occasions. Next time, however, I will be sure to strain the pineapple much more carefully. The little fibers made the granita feel soft; I wished it was a bit icier, to give a greater textural contrast. Thank you SO much for sharing your brilliance!

  15. Tim, where did you get the great glasses in your first picture here? Somewhere local in Chicago that might carry them?

  16. Hi Cary, Those are vintage cocktail glasses that I bought at Brimfield in Andersonville. Unfortunately, I bought them about a year ago so I am not sure if there will be others left. But maybe worth giving them a call? (when I bought them, I only bought some of what they had in stock)

What do you think?