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Tonka Bean Panna Cotta

Tonka Bean Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is a delicious Italian dessert that I often make for dinner parties. They are tremendously easy to prepare and can be made in advance. These panna cottas are perfectly smooth and creamy, and have been infused with the beguiling flavour of the tonka bean.

Tonka beans have long been used in haute cuisine, but have now found their way into home kitchens. They are the seeds from cumaru tree found in the northern countries of South America. Tonka beans have a very similar taste to vanilla, but are much stronger and have a distinctly fruitier and spicier flavour. They are so simple to use and play a vital role in this recipe.

We serve our tonka bean panna cotta with ginger nut biscuits and a spiced salted caramel sauce as these flavours complement and accentuate the rich tonka bean.

Serves 4


For the panna cotta:

  • 300ml Double cream
  • 200ml Whole milk
  • 25g Caster sugar
  • ½ Tonka bean, finely grated
  • 3 Leaves of gelatine, soaked and drained

For the spiced salted caramel sauce:

  • 2 tbsp Unsalted butter
  • 50g Caster sugar
  • 100g Soft brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp Golden syrup
  • ½ tsp Ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Ground ginger
  • ½ tsp Ground nutmeg
  • 200ml Double cream
  • 1 tsp Coarse sea salt

To serve:

  • Ginger nut biscuits, crumbled


1. First make the panna cotta. Place the double cream, milk, caster sugar and grated tonka bean in a saucepan. Bring the contents to a lively simmer. Add the soaked and drained leaves of gelatine and stir until they have fully dissolved.

2. Divide the mixture into four equal-sized panna cotta moulds. Place them in the fridge for at least an hour or until they have set.

3. While the panna cottas are setting make the sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan then remove from the heat and add both the sugars, golden syrup, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Mix the contents of the pan together to form a paste.

4. Place the saucepan back on the heat and add the cream, stirring constantly in a figure of eight motion till the paste has been fully dissolved. Make sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

5. Add the salt and bring the sauce to a boil. Allow it to bubble for a few moments to ensure that the salt has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. This sauce can be reheated before serving.

6. To remove panna cottas from their moulds place them in a hot water bath for a few seconds, watching closely to see when they come away from the sides ever so slightly. Turn them upside down onto a small plate.

7. Crumble a ginger nut biscuit or two on top and serve with a little of the spiced salted caramel sauce on the side.

6 years ago
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