If you are one of those who enjoy desserts daily, crème brûlée and panna cotta must be some of your favorites on your dessert list. Many people worldwide adore these sweet treats, and you can probably notice them on every restaurant menu worldwide. However, what are the differences between crème brûlée and panna cotta, and which one is considered better?
Crème brûlée and panna cotta share many features and ingredients, but they are made in different ways. Namely, crème brûlée is made of eggs and is true custard, while panna cotta is made of gelatin and sweet cream. Based on their thickening agents, you can choose which suits you better.
If you have always wondered what are the differences between crème brûlée and panna cotta, now is your time to shed some light on the features of these desserts.
I have compared the desserts by making a clear line in regard to their differences, so you can see what exactly makes them distinct. Although there are not many differences between them, and they clearly look very similar, it is important to know their features to choose the better option as your dessert in the future.
What Are the Differences Between Crème Brûlée And Panna Cotta?
While the differences are not so obvious and visible to the naked eye, you need to look closely into the ingredients that these desserts use in their content. In addition, if you want to learn the differences in a true way, you also have to look into their distinctions in relation to origin, way of preparation, and taste. Only this way you can become aware of how crème brûlée and panna cotta are truly different, and which one would make a better dessert for your needs and tastes.
To make things easier for you, I have made a close comparison with the most important features of these two desserts, so your task would only be to read this article. You do not need any additional research in order to understand what I am talking about.
Differences in Ingredients
When trying to compare two desserts, the first thing you need to do is to look into their ingredients. Two desserts might seem completely the same; however, some ingredient usually makes them distinct. The same thing happens with crème brûlée and panna cotta, meaning that they have something unique in their content to make people choose one over the other.
Therefore, crème brûlée contains sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cream. On the other hand, panna cotta contains some of the same ingredients, such as cream, sugar, and vanilla, but instead of eggs, it includes gelatin. In other words, the thickening ingredients in crème brûlée are eggs, while in panna cotta is gelatin.
They still look quite similar and give the same feeling to your mouth, despite the different ingredients. However, due to these differences panna cotta is not considered a custard dessert, even though many people believe so. It is a fact that only desserts that have eggs in their content are referred to as custards. Therefore, we need to stop making this mistake.
Differences in Origin
These two desserts come from totally different regions and countries, even though they have a lot of similarities. For instance, it is a quite known fact that crème brûlée comes from France, and even if you did not know this fact, you have probably assumed it due to the obvious French name. For the first time, crème brûlée has been introduced in the 19th century, and from that point on, it has spread across the whole world with some alterations along the way.
On the other hand, panna cotta was invented in Italy. Its first appearance was around the 20th century, and its use has spread worldwide, in the same way as crème brûlée. Even though it is the most popular in Italy and Italian restaurants, nowadays, you can also find it in many confectionery and pastry shops, i.e. it has become very common.
Differences in Ways of Preparation
You can make crème brûlée in two different ways, i.e. using a hot or cold method. However, the most common way is by using a double boiler after whisking the eggs and adding the remaining ingredients. The cold method requires whisking the eggs along with sugar and then adding the ingredients, after which the mixture is exposed to heat.
On the other hand, for panna cotta, you do not need an oven or another kind of heat source. For this dessert, you need to combine the ingredients in an order given by a recipe, and then wait for the mixture to set. After that, you will need to get it chilled in a mold, and your dessert will be ready.
Since there are no eggs in panna cotta, it is usually quicker to prepare this dessert. However, since you have to use gelatin, it might get a little bit complicated for beginners.
Differences in Taste
When it comes to taste, it is a little bit difficult to discuss these details since both crème brûlée and panna cotta have a custard-like taste, i.e., they taste quite similar. However, in crème brûlée, you can notice that burnt caramel is a dominant flavor. Also, the custard inside has strong flavors of nuts and vanilla.
In contrast, panna cotta is creamier and sweeter, and when there are some fruity flavors included, they are usually the dominant scents inside. The vanilla in panna cotta is also highly accented; however, the fruity flavors might still play a more influential role.
Crème Brûlée Vs. Panna Cotta: Which Is Better?
This is not actually a question that can be answered and addressed straightforwardly. This is because to determine which one is better, and you have to discuss different tastes. In other words, you need to discover what your palate likes more, and then you can say that one is better than the other.
Since there are not many differences in their ingredients, there are few differences in the nutritious benefits. However, crème brûlée might be slightly healthier due to the presence of eggs rather than gelatin. Eggs are a source of protein, which is needed for our immune system.  Therefore, it would be only right to say that crème brûlée might be the healthier option for you.
As you can see, despite the many similarities between them, crème brûlée and panna cotta are still very different. Therefore, you should not put them in the same group because they do not really belong in the same group of desserts. However, by knowing their differences, you will always be able to determine which one is more suitable for you.