Top Chef Chocolate Panna Cotta

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My father and I were recently involved in a local Top Chef competition as a fundraiser for a church. I have to admit I was more than scared. I cook for friends and family with no fancy training. Sometimes the dishes are winners, and of course serious losers. My family has to keep me around because they are family! My friends are just great people and too polite to tell me otherwise. Cooking for strangers and having them judge me?!?! That could be a serious blow to my little cooking ego. I never like watching competitive cooking shows because I strongly detest the idea of ripping someones cooking apart. Cooking can be a fun and passionate expression of ones self. It is something you do from your heart and therefore I feel dissecting ones food is to dissect their character. Okay, maybe that is a little serious. But really, whats good to one person may not be to another simply based on personal preference. So who can really judge?

My ranting and raving aside, this was a big challenge not only because it was being judged….But, it was being judged by 130 people!!! The most I have cooked for is 35. I am used to large groups, but I am not a catering hall! So I did it, I faced the challenge head on. Took me a week to prep and plan with 3 days of solid cooking. I surprised myself and I guess I everyone else around me because I WON!!! The other teams made great food and worked just as hard. I made everything from scratch and my nerves were shot! I was and still am proud of myself. For me, that was a big risk to take. Also, the event raised 15,000 for the church to begin building a functional kitchen to service the town seniors.

My winning dessert was chocolate panna cotta with raspberry sauce. Super easy and a make ahead dish, I am sharing the recipe below!


Top Chef Chocolate Panna Cotta


chocolate panna cotta

  • 1 c whole milk

  • 1 package unflavored gelatin

  • 2 c heavy cream

  • 1/4 c honey

  • 1/2 lb dark chocolate, finely chopped

  • 1/2 lb milk chocolate, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

raspberry sauce

  • 1 pint fresh raspberries

  • 1/4 c sugar

  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

  • pinch of salt

  • 1 tsp cornstarch


  1. Pour the milk into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and stir. Let the gelatin rest for 5 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the cream and honey over medium heat. When the cream just comes to a boil, remove from the heat and whisk in the gelatin mixture.

  3. In a large bowl combine the milk and gelatin mixture with the chocolate and vanilla extract. Gently stir as the chocolate pieces should be melting into the milk.

  4. Then grab a strainer and another bowl and pout the mixture through the strainer into the other bowl to try and remove any lumps.

  5. Pour the mixture into ramekins (8 oz) or any other glass cups. I have used low martini glasses before!

  6. Refrigerate for about 6 hours, giving the chance for the panna cotta to set!

raspberry sauce

  1. Combine raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a small saucepan set over low heat. Cook until berries release their juices and just start to break down, about 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, press berries through a fine-mesh sieve; discard solids. Return strained juice to saucepan, stir in cornstarch, and cook until mixture comes to a boil. Then let cool and refrigerate until you are ready to use it!

    **I also used mint leaves to garnish this dish 🙂

RECIPE NOTES: The Raspberry Sauce was adapted from: