Panna Cotta With Luxardo Maraschino Cherries

almond panna cotta with cherries

Creamy and velvety smooth Almond Panna Cotta turns into a decadently delicious finale for your holiday meal when topped with Luxardo Maraschino Cherries. The amazing marasca sour cherries from the Veneto region of Italy are candied and then steeped in a syrup made from cherry juice and sugar. The panna cotta, which means “cooked cream” in Italian, is a special treat your guests will enjoy but they will never imagine how easy and quick this chilled dessert is to prepare…there is only about five minutes of cooking involved in the recipe.

almond panna cotta with cherries
Almond Panna Cotta With Luxardo Maraschino Cherries

Even if you aren’t familiar with their name, you may have had the Luxardo maraschino cherries if you have been to an upscale bar or restaurant and ordered a Manhattan, Rob Roy or Old Fashioned. The delicious dark burgundy, almost black, cherries were probably stuck on the swizzle stick in your cocktail.

My husband discovered the cherries when he ordered a special “New Old Fashioned” at the bar in the Pillars Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Needless to say he loved them and went in search of the cherries when we returned home. I must confess that we were surprised that the imported cherries were pricy but considering that they are not the artificially colored neon red supermarket cherries, my husband decided to splurge. You only need one or two to top each almond panna cotta so I knew my husband wouldn’t mind sharing his special cocktail cherries for this wonderful chilled dessert that we served to our friends.

almond panna cotta with cherries
Almond Panna Cotta With Luxardo Maraschino Cherries

Almond Panna Cotta Topped With Luxardo Maraschino Cherries

Serves 4 – 6, depending on the size of the molds.

  • 1 packet (1/4oz.) of Knox unflavored gelatin powder*
  • 2 Tbsp. milk or cold water
  • 2 c. (1 pint) heavy cream
  • 1 c. half and half
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c. powdered (icing) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • Luxardo Maraschino Cherries, 1 or 2 cherries and a little syrup to drizzle on each individual serving

*If you are using bulk powdered gelatin, a packet is slightly less than 2 1/2 tsp.

Place milk into a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over it and let sit (do not stir) until the gelatin becomes soft and spongy. Place the cream, half and half and sugar into a pot over medium low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Taste for sweetness. Simmer over low heat until small bubbles appear around the edge. Add the gelatin and stir until it dissolves. (Do not let the cream boil.) Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve into a container with a pouring spout. Stir in the vanilla and almond extract and let cool.

Pour into serving containers or molds and refrigerate for 4 – 5 hours, depending on their size. (If making the day before, once the mixture has gotten firm, place a piece of plastic wrap  on top of each panna cotta so that a thick skin doesn’t form.)

To serve, let the molds sit out about 5 to 10 minutes. Wipe the dessert plates with a damp paper towel. This makes it easier to reposition the panna cotta if you haven’t placed it in the right spot on the plate. Loosen the top edge of the molds with the tip of a thin knife then warm each mold in your hands or dip into warm water for just a second or two. Place a dessert plate on top, turn over and gently tap to unmold.


  • Sweetness level of the panna cotta can be adjusted depending on your tastes and whether or not you are adding a sweet topping.
  • If you plan to unmold the panna cotta, you can run cold water on the inside of the molds, then pour out but do not dry before filling.
  • A thin film of non flavored oil can be lightly wiped on the inside of the molds instead of using water, which will also help when unmolding.
  • It is important that the mixture should never boil or the panna cotta will not set properly.
  • If you plan to not unmold the panna cotta, you can serve when firm, about 2 hours. If umolding, refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  • To unmold, dip the container into hot water for a few seconds and run a knife around the edge.
  • If you don’t have molds, you can use small disposable Dixie bathroom cups, they are flexible for easy removal.
  • If you are worried about having problems unmolding the panna cotta, you can pour the cream mixture into pretty small glasses or cups, chill until firm and serve in the glasses.


Luxardo cherries imported from Italy are quite a bit more expensive than their American counterparts but they will add a special touch to your holiday meal. The panna cotta is easy to make and looks beautiful when presented with its topping of the deep burgundy colored cherries. I’m sure you will get raves from your guests when they have had a taste of this luscious, remarkably creamy dessert.

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I travel the back roads of the world, sharing great food and interesting places and enjoyable pastimes.

71 thoughts on “Panna Cotta With Luxardo Maraschino Cherries

    1. Hi Lea Ann, I love making panna cotta…it is one of the simplest desserts you could possibly make. I believe you and my husband are correct about quality. 😊

  1. Someone gave me some Luxardo maraschino cherries and I avoided them for the longest time, just assuming they were going to be similar to the grocery store variety. What a mistake! Once I opened them, I was hooked. I love the idea of using them on an almond flavored panna cotta. Very nice!

    1. Hi David, weren’t you surprised when you finally tasted the Luxardo cherries. They worked so well with the almond panna cotta…I thought they were the perfect topping.

    1. Hi Ronit, I’m glad that you agree about the Luxardo cherries being a special topping for the panna cotta. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  2. Oh my gosh, your panna cotta takes me back to enjoying it in Bologna (with strawberries in the version that I had). I love cherries more than any fruit and would LOVE to try your recipe with them! Buon Natale!!!!

    1. I appreciate your lovely compliment and wish Roz. I believe you would enjoy this version of panna cotta with the delicious cherry topping. Thank you and Buon Natale to you.

    1. You gave me a chuckle Bobbi, I tend to agree when it comes to entertaining your guests. I appreciate your nice compliment about the panna cotta, thank you.

  3. this looks so pretty karen. i am not a fan of gelatine so i don’t usually eat or make anything with it in it. but sometimes a panna cotta can be superb if done just right – all wobbly and tender. i’m sure your is delicious. cheers sherry

    1. Sherry I think you would probably enjoy this panna cotta. I made panna cotta the other night for friends and one described it as “light as angel’s wings”.

    1. Hi Debra, I’m happy to be able to introduce you to Luxardo cherries, they are absolutely delicious and make a wonderful topping for the almond panna cotta. Thank you!

    1. Hi Pam, I agree with you about the panna cotta being a nice dessert to serve during the Christmas season. It is a light yet delicious ending to a meal. I appreciate your nice compliment.

  4. I had the privilege of having panna cotta for the first time in Italy. I searched far and wide for it stateside, or a recipe, for years. The trouble was I had no earthly idea what it was called. I remember looking for it as what it wasn’t (“not a custard, not flan, not crème brulee, not cheesecake, with berry sauce.”)
    It wasn’t until more than 10 years later on a cooking show from Australia that I had a eureka moment. My excitement sure surprised my husband and MIL who were watching the show, until I explained the backstory (and then was redoubled when my MIL made panna cotta for me!)
    Thank you for sharing this recipe and rekindling the fond memories for me to boot. I hope you are having a fulfilling and peaceful holiday season.

    1. Not only am I happy that you like the recipe Plumdirt, I’m glad that the post reminded you of the first time you had panna cotta during your travels in Italy. Thank you for your lovely compliment and wish.

  5. What a wonderful way to honor those fantastic Luxardo Maraschino Cherries. We always have the cherries on our Julegrot (sweet rice and cream pudding). Humm, in a Manhatten, brilliant I say.

  6. I absolutely love Luxardo cherries! I actually heard the other day that Trader Joe’s stocks them as a holiday item – just FYI. I also love panna cotta, but I’ve never actually made it here at home. I’m thinking I should try that now. This would be a gorgeous dessert to serve for Christmas or even New Year’s!

    1. David, once you try making panna cotta at home there will be no stopping you with all the variations you can make. I think serving this particular one during this holiday season would be perfect. Oh I wish we had a Trader Joe’s by us, the closest one is 2 hours away.

    1. Hi Jan, I’m glad you have almost everything you need to make the panna cotta. The cherries will be the “icing on the cake” so to speak. Enjoy!

  7. Beautiful photo! Yes, these cherries are the best. (Although I still like the weirdly red ones on ice cream and in some retro cocktails.)

    1. Thao, this sounds like the perfect little dessert for you…especially if you make it in the little plastic bathroom cups. Everyone would get a small but delicious portion.

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment Julie and yes, the cherries really make the dessert. I do know that Mr. Bonner is a very talented cook so I can imagine that he makes a wonderful panna cotta. ☺️

  8. I was a little surprised when I read the title but in reading on, I was happy to see the imported cherries, they are gorgeous! And speaking of gorgeous, that dessert is spectacular! A perfect ending for any holiday meal!
    Sorry I’ve bee AWOL but we just returned from a month-plus in Arizona! We had three sets of friends join us for 5-6 days each! It was definitely whirlwind but super fun! Now I need a vacation! Merry Christmas, hope you have a wonderful new year that’s filled with good health and much happiness!

  9. I know what you mean about needing a vacation after a vacation Eva. I appreciate your nice wish and compliment about the panna cotta…and yes, the cherry topping are the imported Italian ones.

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