Thursday, April 30, 2015

Panna Cotta Ricotta - Low Carb & Sugar Free

This week I created a new recipe for low carb, sugar free Panna Cotta. It turned out AMAZING! If you've never made, eaten or heard of Panna Cotta before, it's a simple Italian dessert usually made with cream, eggs and a sweetener (panna cotta means cooked cream). It is sometimes cooked in a water bath (bain-marie), cooled and then inverted over top of some type of sauce or berry puree for a fancier presentation. While I like my food to look good, I am also all about keeping it as simple as possible to prepare, otherwise it would end up being another one of those recipes banished to serving only for special occasions. In other words, lets "keep it real" as in real food, real simple, real good!

I just happened to have a huge (2-pound container) of ricotta cheese in the fridge that was 3/4 full and needed to be used. Ricotta doesn't have a long shelf life once it's opened and unless I am making lasagna or something like that, I'm always looking for ways to use up what's left. I had recently stumbled upon a recipe for Panna Cotta made using ricotta cheese and cream (instead of using all cream like more traditional versions). This version also used a bit of unflavored gelatin to help it set instead of eggs and it required no cooking other than the few minutes it takes to heat it up on the stove to dissolve the gelatin. This also means it will make a perfect summertime dessert because you don't need to turn your oven on and the berries, which go nicely with it, are plentiful in the summer as well. I served mine in mini trifle bowls topped with fresh Strawberry Chia Jam that I made by simply mashing ripe freshly picked strawberries (given to us by one of our kind and generous neighbors over the weekend) with chia seeds and a bit of stevia (it was delicious and so fresh)! 

This panna cotta recipe is SO astoundingly in, I didn't expect it to be so good for something so easy and with such few ingredients. It's like a cross between a thick and rich custard, a cheesecake...and it has the familiar flavor of my favorite tapioca pudding (minus the tapioca)! To keep the carbs down, I used unsweetened cashew milk in place of the cream (which only add 1.5 grams of carbs to the entire recipe). I used Swerve confectioners style sweetener to sweeten it and fine tuned the sweetness with stevia

This easy dessert recipe met my 3 basic criteria that I try to stick to most of the time (with a 4th bonus criteria added as well):

#1  Is it low carb?                                                                           Check!
#2  Does it taste good?                                                                   Check!
#3  Is it simple enough that people will actually make it?              Check!
#4  Will it help me use up this ginormous container of ricotta?      Ding Ding Ding!

This dessert is definitely worthy of trying. Depending on what kind of ricotta you use, each serving has 2 grams of carbs and 2 grams of sugar. It's simplicity and taste might make this one of your absolute favorites. It's definitely become one of mine! I will never ever worry about what to do with my leftover ricotta a matter of fact I will be buying it just to make this delicious Panna Cotta Ricotta! Enjoy!

Panna Cotta Ricotta


1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin (or 2-1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cashew milk (or half-and-half), divided
1/2 cup confectioners style Swerve sweetener (or powdered sweetener)
1 tablespoon NuStevia simple syrup (or liquid stevia, to taste, added after blending)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup Strawberry Chia Jam, pureed fresh or frozen berries, or fresh fruit


In a medium saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup of the milk; let sit about 5 minutes until softened. Add remaining 1 cup of milk, powdered sweetener, stevia, and vanilla. Heat until hot and gelatin is dissolved, stirring frequently (careful not to boil).

Place ricotta and gelatin mixture in a blender or food processor and blend until pureed and smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes. Divide and pour mixture equally among 8 custard cups or dessert cups. Refrigerate and chill until set, about 3 hours. Top with jam or pureed berries before serving, if desired.

*Note: If desired, the additional stevia can be added at the end during the blending process to allow you to adjust sweetness to your taste after ricotta has been added.



  1. Hi GGC,

    I absolutely *love* stuff like this! :-) I just used the last of a container of ricotta so I'll definitely be shopping for more *soon*! This recipe would also be a good one to help use up the *gigantic* carton of cashew milk!

  2. Hi CyberSis,

    I was surprised at how good it turned out. Maybe I didn't have such high expectations and was just pleasantly surprised. I figured that worst case scenario, I had too much ricotta and cashew milk to use up if it didn't work, it wouldn't be a big deal. I had both half and half as well as cream but decided to see if it would turn out nicely with the cashew milk. I need to try swapping it more frequently to try out in other things as well. Hope you enjoy it.

    Oh...P.S. on your other "weather related post"...I think daffodils are a good sign that spring is definitely headed your direction. I miss having daffodils...I used to have them when I lived further north but digging here is just not fun! :-)

  3. Do you have a recipe for the Strawberry Chia jam? Do the chia seeds help the fruit set up like pectin does, without having to add sugar?

  4. Hi GGC,

    Thanks for the recipe. I will be trying it tomorrow. Would you mind telling us why you have started using the NuStevia simple syrup.

  5. Hi Nanette,

    I will post it soon but the chia is similar, not exactly the same as pectin...but very close. I've made the jam a couple of different ways -- raw (simply mashed ripe berries mixed with a couple tablespoons of chia) and I've made it where I've boiled it for a little bit to thicken with the chia. So far, I thick I prefer the raw version because it tastes fresh and is nice and bright red. Cooking it darkens it and changes the flavor a bit but both are good. If you want to experiment before I post the recipe, use 2 to 3 tablespoons of chia per 16-oz mashed ripe berries and add sweetener to taste (I used stevia). Let it sit for several hours or overnight to gel/thicken. If not as thick as you want add more chia. :-)

  6. Hi BettyAnne,

    I use the NuStevia Simple Syrup when I want to more gradually sweeten with stevia because that version has glycerin added so it is not as concentrated as pure stevia. I actually use about 4 to 5 different versions on a regular basis. Also, it comes in a LARGE 16-oz bottle compared to most stevias so I have lots of it! I also use Now brand pure organic stevia that comes in an 8-oz bottle but it is VERY concentrated so a few drops one way or the other makes a larger difference than a few drops of the simple syrup. I also use Now brand stevia glycerite which is very similar to the NuStevia syrup because it too is mixed with glycerin and not as intense (but I absolutely hate the way it comes out of the squeeze bottle...I use it every day for my yogurt I have for breakfast at work. It's MESSY! I knew the only way I would use it was to take it to work so that was the only sweetener I had for my yogurt...LOL. I like it but hate the bottle and how inefficient it is. I also regularly at home use a pure powdered version of the old formula of Nu Naturals stevia (which was my absolute favorite before they changed it). I use that almost every day when I make lemonade by the glass. So, when I use the NuStevia, you know I am tweaking the sweetness in small increments because the sweetness is already very close to what I want it to be. Hope that makes sense! I have a zillion other stevias in my pantry as well, but those are the ones I tend to use more regularly. :-)

  7. Hi GGC,

    When I run into a problem like your messy stevia bottle I transfer the contents to a small glass bottle with a dropper from the local health food store. (I get the 1.25 oz. size for $1 and the droppers for 70 cents.) Easy to measure precisely without the mess. And besides ... it gets the "whatever" out of the plastic container. :-)

  8. Hi CyberSis,

    That's a great idea. The top of this bottle where you squeeze it out is always crusty and the rest of the bottle sticky. LOL I'm constantly wiping and cleaning it. I need to find some of those bottles!!! Great tip as well about getting it out of a plastic container, too! :-)

  9. Hi GGC,

    Just a note to let you know that we had the Panna Cotta Ricotta this evening for dessert and it's every bit of *squisita* and then some! I didn't add the extra stevia and it was perfect for us. The immersion blender works great for mixing it up right in the saucepan.

    Well done, GGC. Bravissimo! :-)

  10. Hi CyberSis,

    So happy you liked it! Awesome idea on using the immersion blender too! I will have to try that! :-)

  11. I prepared this recipe again tonight. This time I added unsweetened shredded coconut to each cup before adding the liquid. I stirred each cup well to combine the coconut and liquid. These are delicious!! Similar to the baked coconut custard cups. Next week I will be adding dried cranberries. Thank you so much for this versatile recipe.

  12. Hi BettyAnne,

    That sounds delicious with coconut. I will have to try that soon. Oh my...I am such a cranberry freak...I can't imagine it with cranberries added. I am so happy you are enjoying the recipe. Thanks for letting me know! :-)

  13. As I mentioned in a previous post, this is a versatile recipe. Tonight I substituted a cup of pumpkin for 1 cup of the ricotta cheese. That's the only change I made. Oh my, is this delicious!!! I have so many other combinations I want to try.

  14. Hi BettyAnne,

    Oh my, that sounds AWESOME! I bet it was delicious. I'm anxious to hear all the variations you come up with! :-)

  15. Hi GGC,

    I'll have to try the pumpkin ... sounds great!

    I've been thinking about flavors, too. Maybe some lovely black current extract in place of the vanilla. And I think I hear "lemon" calling my name, as well. I really do love the vanilla, though! :-)

  16. Hi CyberSis,

    I need to pull that black currant extract back out again. I love they way it tastes AND smells. Lemon would be lovely, too! I just made another batch of the baked coconut custards last night. I had one for breakfast this morning! When I finish these up later in the week I'll have to try a new flavor of panna cotta! ;-)

  17. Dear GGC,

    I just made my very favorite version of this recipe. I added 2 TBS of dark cocoa powder to the milk mixture before heating it. Oh my goodness is this good!!

  18. Hi BettyAnne,

    That sounds AWESOME! I've been thinking about swirling melted chocolate in but your version sounds much easier! :-)

  19. GGC,

    I think I will try 3 TBS of dark cocoa next time to get a deeper chocolate color. Mine taste great but are a little on the grayish side. Can't wait to try the lemon suggested in another comment.

  20. Hi GGC.

    We are still waiting for your Strawberry Chia Jam recipe. Don't forget us!!


  21. Hi BettyAnne,

    Thanks for reminding me!!! :-)

  22. Instead of Cashew Milk can I use unsweetened vanilla Almond Milk?


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