Honey Panna Cotta

I love to teach coaching clients panna cotta because they (and you) do not need special skills or equipment to turn out a wonderful dessert. This recipe is a version of one I first found on Tasting Table. It caught my eye because the recipe came from Melissa Perello, the chef of Frances restaurant which is practically right across the street from me in San Francisco. Since the restaurant opened, it has been on the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants list. The original recipe included way too much gelatin. I worked on it with Melissa until she approved the result. I’ve continued to play with the recipe since then. My version appears here. See my blog post for details of how the recipe evolved. I like to serve panna cotta with a sauce, maybe an easy berry sauce such as a lightly spiced strawberry sauce or an easy caramel sauce. Since I used thyme honey, I used thyme flowers from the garden to garnish the ramekins.

Honey Panna Cotta

Prep Time: About 15 minutes; refrigerator setting time, 3 to 4 hours   |   Servings: 6


4 g (1 1/4 teaspoons) powdered gelatin

340 g (1 1/2 cups) heavy cream, divided

80 g (1/4 cup) good quality, flavorful honey

Sea or kosher salt

227 g (1 cup) plain yogurt (regular or Greek-style; nonfat, low-fat, or whole milk)

Spiced Strawberry Sauce or Salted Caramel Sauce with Meyer Lemon (optional)


1. Place a small bowl on a kitchen scale and measure in the gelatin and 56 g (1/4 cup) cold water. Set aside to soften for a few minutes.

2. Place a small saucepan on the scale and add half the cream, the honey, and a pinch of salt. Place over medium heat and stir with a silicone spatula until the mixture begins to steam. Stir in the softened gelatin until it has completely dissolved and the cream just comes to a boil, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. While the cream-honey mixture heats, place a medium bowl on the scale and measure in the yogurt. Pour the hot gelatin mixture into the bowl with the yogurt and stir until smooth.

4. In another medium bowl, whisk the remaining cream into soft peaks. Do not overbeat or the dessert may develop lumps. Gently whisk a generous spoonful of the whipped cream into the cream-yogurt mixture until smooth. Transfer the remaining whipped cream into the panna cotta base and whisk just to blend until evenly mixed and smooth.

5. Divide the panna cotta among 6 (4 to 6 ounce) small molds, let cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight or until set. Serve cold.

6. When ready to serve, unmold the panna cottas onto dessert plates or serve them in their dishes. Pour some of the strawberry sauce over the desserts and serve.

Other Notes

Melissa lightens the texture of her panna cotta with a trick I’ve not seen anywhere before: She whips a portion of the cream and stirs it into the base to give the finished dessert a lighter texture.

You can unmold the dessert (run a warm knife around the edge of each ramekin) or not. It depends on your available time and patience.

Notice that the measurements are by weight (grams) as well as volume if that’s your preference.



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Penni is incredibly knowledgeable about food and has a superb sense of organization and timing with respect to the culinary process. The fact that she is a great listener and a whole lot of fun to work with side by side is simply the icing on the cake.

-Gerald Hirigoyen, chef and cookbook author

About Penni

Over 30 years as a food and wine professional, writer, and editor.

Cookbook author including:
'The Tra Vigne Cookbook' for Michael Chiarello,
'The Basque Kitchen' for Gerald Hirigoyen
and 'BurgerBar' for Hubert Keller.

Contact Penni Wisner