(Greek) Yogurt Panna Cotta with Fresh Fruit

yogurt panna cotta with pomegranate seeds

I am a dessert person. I can eat dessert any time of day. And usually the more decadent the better. Chocolate cake for breakfast? I'm your girl.

So it may surprise you to find out that one of my favorite desserts is panna cotta. The smooth, simple, tinged-with-vanilla cooked-cream dessert transports me. It has a firmness that créme brûlée lacks, a set texture that wobbly flan and créme caramel can't even come close to. It is a creamy "spoon dessert" that other spoon desserts don't hold a candle to in my world.

And when you take panna cotta and replace the cream with milk bolstered with yogurt, you get a dessert that really can be eaten for a midday snack or even for breakfast without much guilt. Top it with fruit and you're basically just having some really decadent yogurt (that's what I told myself anyway).

Greek and regular yogurt panna cotta with Cara Cara oranges, pomegranate seeds, and mango

I came across this recipe for yogurt panna cotta on the Williams-Sonoma Taste blog, and I realized it had been a very long time since I'd made my favorite dessert, and a yogurt-y version with fresh fruit would be just the thing to cure the winter blues and brighten things up around here.

While regular yogurt sounded nice enough, I couldn't help wondering what this luscious treat would be like with the tang of Greek yogurt. So I prepared the recipe up to the step of adding the yogurt, divided the mixture in half and added plain yogurt to one half and Greek yogurt to the other.

My instincts were spot-on. The Greek yogurt added another dimension to the panna cotta's flavor. Not to mention that it made a lovely base for fruit toppings. Of course, the regular yogurt version was really tasty too, and I liked having both options. (Texture-wise, I found the Greek version more firm and the regular yogurt version a little looser.)

yogurt panna cotta with Cara Cara orange segments

When thinking about fruit toppings for my yogurt treat, I was drawn to winter citrus like Cara Cara oranges, deep-red pomegranate seeds, and -- because they were on sale at Whole Foods -- mangos. You can mix and match these three fruits, top the panna cotta with just one of them, or use different fruits altogether (you could even drizzle a little chocolate on top if dessert just isn't dessert without chocolate to you). Whichever option you choose, you'll end up with a creamy treat brightened with vibrant, fresh fruit. So grab a spoon.

pomegranate seedsdiced mango

Greek and regular yogurt panna cotta with pomegranate seeds, Cara Cara oranges, and mangoCara Cara orange segments

Also, don't be intimidated by making panna cotta. It's really, really easy. You just have to bloom some gelatin, heat a little milk and sugar with a vanilla bean and orange zest for flavor, stir the gelatin into the mixture, let it cool slightly, whisk in the yogurt, pour the mixture into dishes (preferably colorful ones to combat gray winter weather), and let the panna cotta set. Then you top each serving with fruit, dip in a spoon, and enjoy!

(Greek) Yogurt Panna with Fresh Fruit
Greek yogurt panna cotta with diced mango and pomegranate seeds

This luscious panna cotta made with yogurt (regular and Greek) and
topped with fresh fruit is perfect for an anytime dessert.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings


1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped, seeds and bean reserved
3 long strips orange zest
8 ounces plain whole-milk yogurt
7 ounces whole Greek yogurt (preferably Fage Total)
Cara Cara orange segments, cut in thirds
Pomegranate seeds
Finely diced mango


Pour 1/2 cup milk in small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until softened, about 10 minutes.

blooming gelatin in milk

Combine remaining 1 cup milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and orange zest in small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and stir to dissolve sugar.

Remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved, about 3 minutes.

Remove vanilla bean and orange zest. Divide mixture between two bowls and let cool until lukewarm, about 10 minutes.

Add plain yogurt to mixture in one bowl and whisk until smooth. Add Greek yogurt to mixture in other bowl and whisk until smooth.

mixing yogurt panna cotta

Pour each mixture into small serving dishes. (I used bowls that held about 3 ounces and got 7 small servings.)

yogurt panna cotta not set upyogurt panna cotta not set up

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 8 hours (though they could be ready as soon as 4 hours after they're refrigerated -- gently shake the dishes to check).

Greek yogurt panna cottayogurt panna cotta

Top with any combination of Cara Cara orange pieces, pomegranate seeds, and diced mango before serving. (The panna cotta can be stored in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap for 2 days.)

Note: You can use 16 ounces of regular yogurt or 14 ounces of Greek yogurt instead of a little of each if you'd like to use just one kind.

yogurt panna cotta with Cara Cara orange segments

What's your favorite "spoon dessert"?

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