Labneh Kefir Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert with probiotic-rich ingredients that support the health of your digestive system. Panna cotta is a classic Italian dessert made with cream, milk, sugar, vanilla and gelatin. Top this easy dessert recipe with a beautiful side of red plumcots and a sweet red wine syrup. This panna cotta is light with a silky smooth texture and a tangy taste. I also share 10 different ways to use the leftover red wine syrup in both sweet and savory recipes.
Hello my friends. Here at Spoonabilities, we have been on a sweet streak this summer, publishing dessert recipes during July and August with a series of ice cream recipes. For this week we have another effortless summer dessert but on the lighter side. Labneh Kefir Panna Cotta with Red Wine Syrup is our monthly collaboration with Flora Fine Foods along with their sister company Orvino Wines Imports and their private label Villas San Giovanni Cabernet Sauvignon.
First, let’s learn some basic information about panna cotta and the specific ingredients for this Labneh Kefir Panna Cotta…
What is Panna Cotta?
Panna cotta is a cold Italian custard-like dessert made with milk, cream, sugar, vanilla & gelatin. It’s basically a custard but without eggs. This Italian dessert usually is topped with fresh fruits, compote, or sweet dessert sauces. Panna cotta is a light dessert with a smooth, silky texture. The term “panna cotta” means “cooked cream” in Italian.
What is Kefir or Kephir?
Kefir is a cultured drink that originated in Caucasus, Eastern Europe, and Russia. Kefir is basically fermented milk. Very similar to drinkable yogurt, this fermented milk is rich in probiotic bacteria, which is good for your gut’s health. Due to the fermentation, the remains of lactose in Kefir are very minimal, and people with lactose intolerance can tolerate this fermented milk. You can also find Kefir made with non-dairy products like soy, rice milk, nut milk, and coconut milk. This drink is rich in an enzyme that acts as a natural antibiotic. Read more about milk kefir history.
What is Labneh Cheese?
Labneh is strained Greek yogurt. When you strain the yogurt, you remove most of the whey resulting in a thicker consistency. The use of Labneh cheese is very versatile, and the most common way of eating it is by adding some olive oil and sea salt. I like to serve labneh with extra virgin olive oil, Za'atar, and sumac.
What is Gelatin?
Gelatin is an unflavored and translucid ingredient derived from animal collagen. This ingredient is used mostly in desserts to help give a custard-like consistency. Gelatin is an ingredient that comes in the form of powder, granules, or sheets. You must soak the gelatin in water before you use it in the main recipe. If you are vegetarian, the most suitable vegetarian substitutes for gelatin in order to reach the custard-like consistency for this Labneh Kefir Panna Cotta are agar-agar & xanthan gum. If you decide to use xanthan gum, then use just half of the amount indicated to use for gelatin. For more information on this, read 3 Vegetarian Substitutes for Gelatin.
What is the Difference between Panna Cotta and Flan?
Panna cotta and flan are very similar, but the differences are:
- Panna cotta uses gelatin to create the custard-like texture, and flan uses eggs to reach the custard texture.
- The main ingredient for panna cotta is milk or cream, and for flan is egg yolks and milk
- Panna cotta doesn’t need to be cooked, whereas flan does.
- You cook flan in the oven in a bain-marie bath with caramel, and when it’s unmolded, the caramel is melted on top. The topping for the panna cotta is added after its set and therefore you can be more versatile with the toppings.
I adapted the Kefir Panna Cotta recipe from the “The Kefir Cookbook” by Julie Smolyansky who is the CEO and president of Lifeway Foods Inc. As I initially read her recipe, I fell in love with each ingredient and the red wine syrup was the part that really caught my attention. I always love cooking with wine in savory recipes, sauces, and sweet desserts, but I never used it for a dessert sauce.
How to make Red Wine Syrup with Cabernet Sauvignon
Use a heavy-bottomed saucepot to make the syrup. Pour in the whole bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, the honey and the ground black pepper. Cook the wine mixture until all the alcohol is gone and it is reduced to a thick syrup - about 30 minutes. The original recipe said to let it reduce until you have about ½ a cup, but I didn’t wait that long. The quantity that I got from the wine reduction was around 1+½ cups. I found it perfect for my taste. When you are done cooking it, you have to strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve/colander into a bowl to remove the ground black pepper. Refrigerate the syrup until you are ready to garnish the kefir panna cotta. The flavor of this red wine syrup is sweet with rich red wine undertones and light hints of lemon honey and ground pepper. This honey-sweetened red wine syrup gives this luscious creamy dessert a tart, delightful, and luxurious edge.
Ten Different Ways to use your leftover red wine syrup:
After you're done serving all your kefir panna cottas, you most likely will have some extra red wine syrup. Here are 10 different ways you can use the leftover syrup in other dishes:
- Drizzle on top of a pound cake and butter cake
- Drizzle over vanilla ice cream
- Swirl into yogurt with fresh berries
- Use in savory dishes like drizzling over chicken and steak
- Brush the syrup when you are grilling meats or when you are roasting chicken, pork and lamb
- Include it as an ingredient for a vinaigrette
- If you feel creative, mix it into cocktails
- Flavor your buttercream and whipped cream
- Add to marinades for meats, chicken and tofu
- Pour on pancakes, French toast and waffles.
How to make Labneh Kefir Panna Cotta
First, you need to add the gelatin sheets to an ice bath for 10 minutes. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, add the cream and bring it to a light simmer. Remove the gelatin from the ice bath and drain well. Add the drained gelatin to the saucepan with the cream and whisk in the sugar. Cook until the sugar is fully dissolved. In a large mixing bowl, combine the kefir and labneh cheese, and add the warm cream mixture until it’s well combined. Pour this mixture into eight lightly oiled 6-ounce ramekins or custard molds. Allow it to set in the refrigerator overnight.
How to unmold your Panna Cotta perfectly
I have to be honest with you. During the unmolding of the panna cotta I encountered some issues mostly because of my lack of attention and patience. This is why you will not see perfect shapes of the panna cotta in the photos. From my experience unmolding this Kefir Panna Cotta, I have a couple of recommendations:
- Lightly spray the flan molds or ramekins with oil. This will help the panna cotta to release quickly.
- To un-mold panna cotta, run a thin knife around the edge of the ramekin. Then invert it over a plate. It should come right out.
- If the panna cotta doesn’t want to come out after you run the knife along the edge, Run the mold under water just for a few seconds. This is the part where I made a mistake because I decided to place the ramekins in a tray with warm water, and then left to finish setting up the photo shoot. I took too long and when I was able to unmold the panna cottas, the texture around the edges was a bit “melty” – a cooking technical term (in my head) ☹. The big takeaway from this experience is to not get sidetracked.
Here is another technique that will give you a perfect shape, but it doesn't work for everyone (at least not me):
Video Technique for a perfect panna cotta shape
Both the Labneh Kefir Panna Cotta and the red wine syrup can be prepared two days in advance. So, this panna cotta is an excellent dessert for entertaining friends and family because it can be made ahead with zero stress the day of your get-together. This fantastic dessert is super easy to make, does not require an oven, and almost no time on the stove. For those reasons, for me, it qualifies as the perfect summer dessert. I believe this is an all-year-round dessert. You just have to match the flavor and toppings to the season. In just a spoonful of this creamy dessert, you will get a perfectly sweet and tangy experience in your mouth.
What Toppings are good for Panna Cotta?
Unlike flan that already has the caramel sauce on it when you unmold it, panna cotta is very versatile for the number of toppings you can choose to put on top. Here are just 13 toppings for panna cotta:
- Red wine syrup
- Fruit compote
- Caramel sauce
- Maple syrup
- Fresh fruits
- Berry sauce
- Fruit syrup
- Fruit gelée
- Cold chocolate sauce
- Poached pear in wine, bourbon or simple syrup
If you love making panna cotta, or just love eating it, check out our fall inspired panna cotta recipe: Pumpkin Coconut Panna Cotta with Cinnamon Maple Syrup
I hope you get to make our latest dessert this summer, Labneh Kefir Panna Cotta and the red wine syrup, or any of our recipes. Tell me in the comments below what you think about this recipe. Are you going to make it? It’s easy, so you can do it. Share this recipe with your social media friends and please tag us @spoonabilities and use the hashtag #Spoonabilities. Thank you.
Wishing you Tasty Happenings,
Your Recipe Concierge
Interested in more easy dessert recipes? Here are some great recipes.
- Oatmeal Raisin Maple Bourbon Cookies with Maple Syrup Glaze
- Peanut Butter Jelly Bars with Blackberry Jam
- Whipped Sabayon with Fresh Strawberries
- How to Make Easy Strawberry Mousse