These Chocolate Panna Cotta are the perfect ending to any meal. Decadently rich in chocolate, creamy, and easy to make, they are the ultimate overnight dessert (and therefore so convenient for meal prep). Made with agar-agar for a vegetarian version, they are topped with a super easy berry compote: a match made in heaven with dark chocolate.

a half-eaten chocolate panna cotta with berry compote in a glass with a spoon


Why you should try this recipe

  • Super easy and quick to make – this recipe requires only 7 ingredients, and takes 20 minutes to whip up (then place in the fridge and forget about them until the next day!)
  • Overnight recipe, perfect for meal prep – these Panna Cotta have to be made the day before for the agar-agar to set. This is so convenient to prepare for large gatherings, served with Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina (Tomato Mozzarella Baked Gnocchi), Pici All’Aglione, or Peach Caprese Salad with Burrata and Pesto Salad Dressing.
  • A vegetarian version of panna cotta – made with agar-agar (and not gelatine) that has the creamiest texture – I have tested this recipe numerous times to ensure that the agar is in the perfect amount, with a texture that is decadently creamy and not rubbery. 
heavy cream, milk, dark chocolate, agar-agar powder on a vintage chopping board

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The ingredients you’ll need

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card at the end of the post.)

For the chocolate panna cotta

  • Dark chocolate – I recommend good quality bittersweet dark chocolate with 60% cacao content.
  • Heavy cream – also called whipping cream, is a thick liquid cream that will bring silkiness to the panna cotta.
  • Whole milk – is used to lighten up the panna cotta texture, as well as add softness.
  • Agar-agar powder – is the vegetarian jellifying agent that creates the classic, firm, panna cotta texture.

For the berry compote

  • Raspberries (fresh or frozen) – cut through the richness of the chocolate cream with their bright acidity. Plus, chocolate and raspberry are, in my humble opinion, a match made in heaven.
  • Blueberries (fresh or frozen) – elevate the compote with their subtle, woody, and floral sweetness.
  • Granulated sugar – will add a slight jamminess to the compote (without being too sweet or too thick).

fresh raspberries, fresh blueberries and granulated sugar on a blue and white plate

What is agar-agar and how to use it?

Agar-agar is a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed (don’t worry, it is tasteless and odorless!), used as a vegetarian substitute for gelatin (which is made from animal collagen). As a general rule of thumb, agar-agar cooks a bit longer than gelatin and must be added to a boiling liquid, then cooked for 2 minutes, while stirring constantly, to release its jellifying properties.

How to make Chocolate Panna Cotta with Berry Compote?

(Note: please see the recipe card below for the complete written instructions and measurements.)

Start by preparing the chocolate panna cotta:

  • Roughly chop dark chocolate, and add it to a saucepan along with heavy cream and milk. 
  • Over medium heat, bring to a simmer, stirring regularly to help melt the chocolate, for about 5-7 minutes. 

  • When the chocolate has melted and the preparation starts bubbling, add the agar agar.
  • Cook for 2 minutes, stirring dynamically and continuously with a whisk to help dissolve and cook the agar-agar. 

Note: once the preparation is bubbling, add the agar agar and do not stop whisking, as the preparation might overflow (it contains milk and cream!). A bubbling preparation is necessary to ensure the temperature is high enough to properly cook the agar agar. 


  • Remove from the heat, then, using an immersion blender, mix for 10 seconds to help smooth the panna cotta mixture. Try not to incorporate too much air while mixing: keep the immersion blender fully immersed (do not bring it to the surface).

Note: this step ensures that the panna cotta texture is smooth. Agar-agar can sometimes create a lumpy texture when it sets, mixing the preparation will prevent this from happening.


an immersion blender mixing chocolate panna cotta mixture
  • Divide the hot chocolate cream mixture among 4 heat-proof tumblers or ramekins.
  • Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, create slow circular motions in each tumbler to help eliminate potential remaining air bubbles. 
  • Allow to cool for 20 minutes at room temperature, then cover with cling film and place in the fridge overnight to set.

Note: making circular motions with a skewer will burst potential air bubbles created by the immersion blender.


Make the berry compote:

  • In a medium saucepan, add the raspberries, sugar, and water.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cook for 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the blueberries and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Transfer the compote to a container and let it cool for 20 minutes. Cover with a lid or cling film, and store overnight in the fridge. 

  • Take the panna cotta and compote out of the fridge 10 minutes before serving to help loosen them up.
  • Top each panna cotta with berry compote and add some optional fresh berries on top.

  • It’s ready! Enjoy immediately!
chocolate panna cotta topped with berry compote and fresh berries on top

Nim Keys – Useful Tips

  1. Cooking the agar-agar for 2 minutes while whistling continuously is key to activating its jellifying properties. The preparation must be bubbling, ensuring that the temperature is high enough to properly cook the agar-agar.
  2. Mixing the panna cotta mixture with an immersion blender is important to make sure the final panna cotta texture is smooth. To avoid adding too much air into the mixture (which will result in small bubbles in the panna cotta), try to keep the immersion blender fully immersed (do not bring it to the surface).
  3. Making circular motions with a wooden skewer in the pan cotta mixture will burst potential air bubbles created by the immersion blender. It helps smooth the texture.
  4. When fresh raspberries and blueberries are not in season, use frozen ones – just add them frozen to the saucepan and proceed as written in the recipe, adding extra cooking time if need be.

a half-eaten chocolate panna cotta with berry compote in a glass with other panna cotta on the side

FAQ

How long do these panna cotta keep?

They can be stored in the fridge, covered with clingfilm, for up to 3 days.

I don’t have agar-agar, what can I substitute it with?

Cornstarch and pectin powder are two common alternatives to agar-agar. You can use cornstarch at a 1:1 ratio as an agar-agar substitute, make sure to mix the cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of cold water before adding it to the panna cotta mixture. For pectin powder, use a 3:1 ratio to agar-agar powder.

Can I freeze these panna cotta?

I do not recommend freezing panna cotta, as it can have an effect on the texture and the cream is likely to split.


close-up of chocolate panna cotta with berry compote in a glass

Other Delicious Chocolate Recipes


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a half eaten chocolate panna cotta with berry compote in a glass with other panna cotta on the side

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Berry Compote

5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time : 15 minutes
Cook Time : 15 minutes
Total Time : 30 minutes
Servings : 4
These Chocolate Panna Cotta are the perfect ending to any meal. Decadently rich in chocolate, creamy, and easy to make, they are the ultimate overnight dessert (and therefore so convenient for meal prep). Made with agar-agar for a vegetarian version, they are topped with a super easy berry compote: a match made in heaven with dark chocolate.

INGREDIENTS
 

For the chocolate panna cotta:

  • 4.5 ounces (130 g) bittersweet dark chocolate (with 60% cacao content)
  • 1 ½ cups (375 ml) heavy cream (also called whipping cream)
  • ½ cup (125 ml) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) agar agar powder

For the berry compote:

  • ½ cup (75 g) raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup (75 g) blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • cup (65 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water

Optional, for presentation:

  • a small handful of fresh berries

INSTRUCTIONS

Start by preparing the chocolate panna cotta:

  • Roughly chop dark chocolate, and add it to a saucepan along with heavy cream and milk. 
  • Over medium heat, bring to a simmer, stirring regularly to help melt the chocolate, for about 5-7 minutes. 
  • When the chocolate has melted and the preparation starts bubbling, add the agar agar.
  • Do not turn the heat down (the preparation should keep bubbling) and cook for 2 minutes, stirring dynamically and continuously with a whisk to help dissolve and cook the agar-agar. 
  • Remove from the heat, then, using an immersion blender, mix for 10 seconds to help smooth the panna cotta mixture. Try not to incorporate too much air while mixing: keep the immersion blender fully immersed (do not bring it to the surface).
  • Divide the hot chocolate panna cotta mixture among 4 heat-proof tumblers or ramekins.
  • Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, create slow circular motions in each tumbler to help eliminate potential remaining air bubbles. 
  • Allow to cool for 20 minutes at room temperature, then cover with cling film and place in the fridge overnight to set.

Make the berry compote:

  • In a medium saucepan, add the raspberries, sugar, and water.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cook for 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the blueberries and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Transfer the compote to a container and let it cool for 20 minutes. Cover with a lid or cling film, and store overnight in the fridge. 
  • Take the panna cotta and berry compote out of the fridge 10 minutes before serving to help loosen them up.
  • Top each panna cotta with berry compote and add some optional fresh berries on top. It’s ready! Enjoy immediately!

NOTES

  1. Cooking the agar-agar for 2 minutes while whistling continuously is key to activating its jellifying properties. The preparation must be bubbling, ensuring that the temperature is high enough to properly cook the agar-agar.
  2. Mixing the panna cotta mixture with an immersion blender is important to make sure the final panna cotta texture is smooth. To avoid adding too much air into the mixture (which will result in small bubbles in the panna cotta), try to keep the immersion blender fully immersed (do not bring it to the surface).
  3. Making circular motions with a wooden skewer in the pan cotta mixture will burst potential air bubbles created by the immersion blender. It helps smooth the texture.
  4. When fresh raspberries and blueberries are not in season, use frozen ones - just add them frozen to the saucepan and proceed as written in the recipe, adding extra cooking time if need be.
Calories: 605kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 6gFat: 47gSaturated Fat: 29gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 43mgPotassium: 407mgFiber: 5gSugar: 32gVitamin A: 1398IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 127mgIron: 4mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Diet Vegetarian
Did you make this recipe?Don't forget the last step! Leave a comment below to let me know how it went!
5 from 1 vote

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