Cooking Classes


Cooking Class Monday - Working with Gelatin

I don't use gelatin very often. Lately it has only been when I am making marshmallows. So yesterday when I wanted to make a panna cotta, I had problems. I made two different recipes and neither worked. My White Chocolate Panna Cotta was lumpy and did not properly set. 

Then I made a Buttermilk Panna Cotta. After following the recipe to a T, and it was in the refrigerator setting, I knew something was wrong. I could still see the gelatin grains in the mixture and this should not be. So, with nothing to lose, I put the panna cotta into a pot and gently warmed so the gelatin would melt. You cannot do this with buttermilk, however. The buttermilk immediately curdled and it was ruined.

Most recipes do not actually tell you how to properly incorporate the gelatin. You need to know only two basics to achieve a silky smooth gelatin product.

First, the powdered gelatin must be softened in cold liquid. You can use cold water or some of the liquid from the recipe. Be sure not to leave it in a pile in the cold liquid. All the powder must be mixed into the water.

After a couple of minutes the gelatin should be hydrated. Secondly, the granules must be melted by adding a hot liquid. Be sure the liquid, again it should be something from your recipe, is boiling or piping hot. Stir until the grains have melted. Stir with a spoon and if you do not see any specks on it after removing from the liquid, then you know the gelatin has been melted and incorporated properly.

Now it is ready to add the rest of your ingredients. To set the gelatin, depending upon the amount of gelatin used and the other ingredients, it can be left at room temperature. This works well for marshmallows. But for a panna cotta with cream and milk, it should be refrigerated.

Plain gelatin is the structure for this Champagne and Raspberry Congealed Salad. Click for the recipe.

I have only used powdered gelatin and have never worked with gelatin sheets. To find good instructions when using gelatin sheets, just click here on David Lebovitz's blog. He also has several interesting links for more information on using plain gelatin.


  1. Your next panna cotta will be perfect! I've been having fun experimenting with some alternatives to gelatin, but nothing seems to work quite like it.

  2. Did you make that beautiful thing?:)

    I have both gelatins..i like the sheets because they are pretty to me:) But I think I have but 2 left:)

    1. I want to try the sheets. Yes, I made that congealed salad! Yeah and it came out of the mold beautifully. You could really taste the champagne which surprised me!

  3. Sometimes my gelatin recipes work well, and sometimes not. It almost seems like the luck of the draw. Your mold is lovely!


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