Yogurt panna cotta with berry sauce is lighter in texture and better for you. (Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post)

Yogurt panna cotta with berry sauce is lighter in texture and better for you. (Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post)

Greek yogurt helps make this panna cotta luxurious and light

White mounds of “cream” make a stunning platform for a gem-toned cascade of gently sweetened berries.

Preparing panna cotta (which in Italian means cooked cream) with whole milk, technically makes it latte cotta. But this recipe has the elegant form and siren call of the classic dessert, so it absolutely lives up to its name in spirit.

Lighter in texture and better for you than the traditional cream-based recipe, this version still retains its sumptuous vanilla-scented richness, along with an extra dose of creamy, subtle tang from the addition of Greek yogurt. Sweetened with just enough sugar to make it feel like dessert, the panna cotta still stays in the healthful zone.

On the plate, the white mounds of the set “cream” make a stunning platform for a gem-toned cascade of gently sweetened berries simmered into a sauce. Because the dessert involves ingredients that are probably already on hand, it can be made on a whim.

The hardest part will be waiting until the creamy goodness is set and ready to plate. But as I see it, the anticipation makes the eating even better.

Yogurt panna cotta with berry sauce

Using whole milk makes this panna cotta lighter in texture and more healthful than a traditional cream-based panna cotta recipe — without sacrificing flavor. With a sumptuous vanilla-scented richness, the dessert gets an extra measure of creaminess and lovely, subtle tang from the addition of Greek yogurt.

You’ll need six 6-ounce ramekins.

Make ahead: The panna cotta will need 4 to 6 hours to set in the refrigerator. The berry sauce can be made up to 4 days in advance.

Note: Panna cotta will keep, refrigerated, for up to 3 days. If making more than 1 day ahead, loosely cover the tops of the panna cotta; and keep in mind the texture of the dessert will stiffen slightly over time. The berry sauce can be made up to 4 days ahead and stored in an airtight container. Bring it to room temperature or warm slightly before serving over the panna cotta.

2¼ cups cold whole milk

2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

⅛ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

⅓ cup whole-milk Greek yogurt

1½ cups frozen mixed berries

2 tablespoons water

Grease your ramekins with cooking oil spray, or brush them lightly with oil.

Pour the milk into a medium saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over it and let it stand, without stirring, for 5 minutes to allow the gelatin to soften and hydrate.

Place the saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring frequently, until the milk is hot but not boiling, and the gelatin has dissolved. Stir in ¼ cup of the sugar and the salt, until they have dissolved. Remove from the heat, then stir in the vanilla extract. Cool for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Place the yogurt in a medium bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of the now slightly warm milk mixture and stir until smooth, then add the yogurt to the saucepan and stir until incorporated. Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until they have set, 4 to 6 hours.

Combine the frozen berries, water and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the mixture just begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the berries break down a little. Use a spoon to break any larger berries in half. The mixture should be saucy.

Transfer to a container, cool for a bit and then cover and refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve. (Bring to room temperature, or warm slightly, before serving.)

Serve in the ramekins, or run a knife or offset spatula around the edge of each panna cotta and invert onto individual plates. (As needed, dip the bottom of each ramekin in warm water to help release a panna cotta from its ramekin.) Spoon about a heaping tablespoon of the sauce over each portion.

Makes 6 servings. Nutrition per serving: 130 calories, 4 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 100 milligrams sodium, no dietary fiber, 18 grams sugar.

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