Peaches and Cream Panna Cotta Shots and My Favorite Gelatin Alternative

Friends, I know it seems like I'm always saying "[...] is one of my all-time favorite desserts", and before those words lose their polish, I'd ask you to hear me out once more. Panna cotta is (truly) one of my all-time favorite desserts. In fact, I think it's just about the most perfect sweet thing for summer. It's rich but not heavy. It's cold and refreshing, and you don't have to do much work aside from stirring a few ingredients together on the stove top.

This version is served in shot glasses and topped with schnapps-spiked peach puree (yu-um!). I finished the shots with fresh mint leaves and beautiful little spheres of gourmet sugar from Chambre de Sucre.

Whenever I make a dessert that contains gelatin, I can count on someone asking for a vegan/vegetarian substitution. I've been looking for a good vegetable-based gel for a while now, for 1.) those dear readers, and 2.) myself.  Even though I'm no purist, I'd rather use non animal-derived gelatin for my baked goods and desserts. Why? -mostly because standard powdered gelatin has an unpleasant odor when bloomed and heated - an animal by-product smell that is not appetizing at all.

I recently picked up a box of dessert jel that exclaims, Gluten Free! Vegan! Unsweetened! All Natural! All those exclamation points made me a little wary, but it's the best substitute I've tried thus far. It's made from vegetable starches and very easy to use. You stir the jel powder into two cups of cold liquid, then bring it to a boil on the stove-top; pour the liquid into a mold (or glasses) then refrigerate to set. It's that easy! There are a few cons that I should point out, too. Much like agar-agar, high acid fresh fruits will inhibit gelling - like pineapple, mango or grapefruit (for which I can personally attest). 

I'm still experimenting with this gel in other desserts, like mousses and jelly candies, but I really loved it in this panna cotta. You can find boxes of Natural Desserts Unflavored Jel Dessert at some organic food shops, here online, or in bulk on Amazon. I can't say I will completely stop using gelatin in my baking, but if the vegan jel can do the job, I will certainly opt to use it instead.

*This is not a sponsored post, I just really like the product.

The sugar pearl on top of this dessert is optional, but it's a neat element because it soaks up some of the peach juice from the puree. When eaten, it sort of falls apart on the tongue and releases a hit of super-sweet-peachy flavor. If you can't find spherical sugar, then cubed sugar should work just the same (and it's easier to find!).

Sucre stripey spoons can be purchased from Hey Yo Yo.

Peaches and Cream Panna Cotta Shots
[click for printable version]
Source: SprinkleBakes original recipe
Prep: 30 minutes; chill 1-2 hours
Yield: twelve 30 ml shots or six 60 ml shots

I found that the larger (60 ml) shots are best served with a little spoon, but smaller shots can be served with a wooden pick to help release the panna cotta from the sides of the glass - then the whole dessert can be taken as one shot.  I personally like to savor dessert for as long as possible, so eat both large and small versions with a spoon.

Panna cotta
1 1/2 cups (363g, 12 3/4 oz.) milk or full-fat half and half
1/2 cup (115g, 4 1/2 oz.) heavy cream
0.3 oz (10g) packet Natural Desserts Unflavored Jel Dessert
      or 1/4 oz. package powdered gelatin (**see bottom of recipe for prep with gelatin)
1/3 cup (67g)  granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml.) vanilla extract
  1. Place the milk and heavy cream in a medium saucepan. Beat dessert jel into the cold cream mixture with a whisk until dissolved and no lumps remain. Whisk in granulated sugar. 
  2. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until boiling. Let boil for 1 minute and remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Immediately transfer liquid to a 4 cup measure with a spout. 
  3. Divide the liquid evenly between the shot glasses - do this quickly, as the dessert jel is quick-setting.  Transfer glasses to the refrigerator and chill until firm.
**If using regular gelatin, place 1/4 cup of the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the milk and let set for 5 minutes. In a saucepan, combine the remaining milk, cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat until very hot.  Remove the saucepan from heat and add vanilla and gelatin mixture.  Whisk gently until gelatin is dissolved. Transfer mixture to a 4 cup measure with a spout and divide between shot glasses; refrigerate until firm.

Spiked peach puree/toppings
12 oz. sliced peaches, fresh or frozen and thawed
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) peach schnapps
2 tablespoons (24g) granulated sugar *optional
6-12 mint leaves for garnish
6 -12 sugar spheres or cubes
  1. Place peaches and peach schnapps in a blender or food processor and blend until pureed. Taste-test the puree for sweetness; if sugar is needed, add 1 tablespoon at a time until desired sweetness is achieved (if using in-season peaches, you may not need any extra sugar). Process mixture again until sugar granules are completely dissolved.
  2. Spoon peach puree over the set panna cotta in the shot glasses. Garnish each shot with a mint leaf and sugar sphere/cube. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Cover leftovers with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

link Peaches and Cream Panna Cotta Shots and My Favorite Gelatin Alternative By Published: Peaches and Cream Panna Cotta Shots and My Favorite Gelatin Alternative Recipe


  1. O those look totally amazing! I am not a big fan of a lot of gelatin. Not that I mind using it, I just don't like the texture of the food if there is too much of it. Pannacotta is a hit and miss affair in that respect as I have had some horrible over gelatined pannacotta's! If I make them I tend to underuse it, which can then result in it falling apart if you unmold it. ofcourse using the glasses would always be a good way.. ;) Love the sound of these peaches and cream pannacotta!

  2. This looks amazing! I think I may have to try them out.

  3. Flavory and refreshing, perfect for summer!

  4. looks and sounds divine.
    i love panna cotta.

  5. Wonderful panna cotta shots! That is such a luscious dessert.

    I always use gelatin sheets...



  6. Oh My Dear, this sounds cool and refreshing and the photos are SO. CLEAN. I just LOVE this post! Seeing that mint all stretched out alone was like a piece of art in itself! Well done as always!

  7. I love panna cotta, but have never made my own! This looks like a fabulous recipe to start with!

  8. Your photos are always so beautiful! I wish I was half as talented :)

  9. I use that jel a lot! I too have experienced it's failure in acidic juices, but other than that it seems to work like a charm.

  10. I love, love, love panna cotta and this looks like such a great recipe!

  11. Looks awesome! These Are definitely professional standard!

  12. These shooters are so pretty!! In fact, way too pretty to consume :D

  13. Every time I vist your site I am amazed!! Gorgeous photos and the most delicious food!

  14. Do you have a product that you have used with success in homemade marshmallows?

  15. Panna Cotta is one of my favs too Heather. It looks so cute served in the shot glasses!

  16. spettacolari come sempre le tue ricette ma soprattutto le tue foto! Complimenti!



  18. fwarrr sounds delicious and simple. my kind of dessert.

  19. These look really pretty :) I have tried substitutes for gelatine as well but have found that using gelatine sheets get me the best results over powdered and other substitutions. In saying that I am always looking for other choices for my vegan friens - thanks for sharing another alternative!

  20. These look to good to eat. but I will!

  21. You said that fruits high in acid will not work properly with the gelatin. If you cook the fruit the gelatin will work just fine

  22. These panna cotta shots are truly lovely! The peaches and cream flavors sound so summery and refreshing! The gelatin substitute info is appreciated. My daughter is vegetarian and I always feel badly when I make a dessert she can't eat(as well as wishing the rest of us weren't eating goo from pig/cow hooves). As you pointed out, veggie gelatin doesn't work in all types of recipes. Have you tried this with marshmallows? I can make marshmallow cream with veggie gelatin but haven't found a way to make firm marshmallows. Thanks, Heather!


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