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Lemon Mascarpone Panna Cotta

Take a trip to Italy
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Panna cotta is a popular Italian dessert that translates to “cooked cream.” The dessert itself is a simple mixture of cream, sugar and vanilla. Gelatin is used to give the dessert its firm structure. The addition of lemon juice gives the treat a bright pop of flavor while the rhubarb compote adds a seasonal element.

This recipe was originally published in The Chicago Tribune.  


  • 2 Teaspoons (1 small envelope) plain powdered gelatin
  • 2 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 Cup lowfat milk
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 Cup mascarpone, creme fraiche or sour cream
  • Finely grated zest (yellow part only) of 1 small lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 small lemon
  • Pinch salt
  • Lemony rhubarb compote
  • Sprigs of fresh mint for garnish


Step 1: Sprinkle 2 teaspoons gelatin over 2 tablespoons cold water in small bowl. Let stand until softened, about 3 minutes.

Step 2: Heat 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup sugar in large microwave-safe bowl on high, stirring once or twice, until sugar dissolves (rub a little between your fingers), about 2 minutes. Stir in softened gelatin until dissolved. Cool to room temperature.

Step 3: Combine 1 1/2 cups yogurt, 1/3 cup mascarpone, lemon zest, juice 1/2 lemon and salt with a whisk or hand mixer in a large bowl until blended. Whisk in cooled milk mixture until smooth. Divide the mixture among six pretty dessert bowls or stemmed wine glasses. Cover; refrigerate until set, usually 2 hours. (Or up to 3 days.)

Step 4: Serve topped with a generous spoonful of the lemony rhubarb compote. Garnish with mint.