Layered Chocolate & Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Layered Chocolate & Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta 





Yield: 8 servings (total of ~ 6 cups of Panna Cotta: 4 cups Lavender-Vanilla, 2 cups Chocolate)


For the Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

6 tablespoons (90 ml) cold water

4-1/2 teaspoons (22 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)

2 cups (500 ml) whipping cream (35% fat), or heavy cream

2 cups (500 ml) half-and-half (10.5-18% fat)

1 cup (200 grams) sugar (lavender sugar, if possible)

2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender

pinch of salt

1/2 vanilla bean, seeded and scraped

For the Chocolate Panna Cotta

adapted from Williams-Sonoma

1-3/4 cups (437 ml) whipping cream (35% fat), or heavy cream

1-1/4 teaspoons (6. 25 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)

2 tablespoons (24 grams) sugar

pinch of salt

2 ounces (60 grams) quality dark chocolate (at least 50% cacao), finely chopped

For the Lavender Whipped Cream (optional)

3/4 cup (187 ml) whipping cream (35% fat), cold

1 tablespoon dried Culinary Lavender 

1 tablespoon (12 grams) sugar (or lavender sugar, if possible)

A drop or two of violet gel colour (optional)

For decorating

Dark chocolate piece (or Dark Chocolate & Lavender, if possible)


For the Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta layer:

1. Pour the cold water into a small bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat the whipping cream, half-and-half, sugar, dried lavender and salt over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved and mixture just comes to a boil, about 5 minutes.

3. Remove saucepan from the heat and pour mixture through a fine strainer into a 4-cup measuring cup with spout. Stir in vanilla bean seeds, followed by the gelatin mixture, and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved.

4. Divid among 8 individual serving glasses, custard cups or ramekins and bring to room temperature.

5. Place on a flat surface in refrigerator for at least 5 hours, or overnight.

For the Chocolate Panna Cotta

Once your Lavender-Vanilla Panna Cotta layer has set, make the Chocolate layer:

1. Pour 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the whipping cream into a small heatproof bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let sit for 10 minutes. Place the bowl into a larger bowl with hot water and stir mixture until gelatin has completely dissolved.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the remaining cream, sugar and salt just to a boil and remove promptly from the heat. Whisk in the chocolate until completely incorporated and smooth.

3. Add the gelatin mixture and stir until well combined. Pour mixture through a fine strainer into a 4-cup measuring cup with spout and let sit until it reaches room temperature, stirring occasionally.

4. Divide among the well-chilled/set Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta layered cups, cover loosely and let chill in refrigerator for another 5 hours or overnight.

Chilled Panna Cotta will keep well for 2 days.

For the Lavender Whipped Cream

Prepare the whipped cream up to 2 hours before serving:

1. Add dried lavender to whipped cream, cover and let sit for minimum 1 hour (the longer it sits, the stronger the flavour).

2. Chill a stainless steel mixing bowl and metal whisk or hand mixer beaters for 15 minutes in freezer.

3. Strain the cream into the mixing bowl, add the sugar (I used lavender sugar) and gel colour (if using), and beat just until it stiffens to peaks and keeps shape. Take care to not overbeat, or it will become grainy.

Top each dessert with a dollop of Lavender Whipped Cream and a piece of dark chocolate, or dark chocolate with lavender.

Sweetapolita's Notes:

  • This recipe may appear lengthy or complicated, but it is one of the least fussy or time-consuming desserts you can make (I promise).
  • To make lavender sugar, simply add a few tablespoons of dried culinary lavender to your granulated sugar and stir it up. Keep in an airtight container and use in recipes in place of regular sugar, sprinkled on baked goods, or in tea. The longer it sits, the more intense the fragrance/flavour. I am hooked on this stuff! It also looks especially pretty sitting on the countertop in a clear glass jar. To make lavender-vanilla sugar (even more delightful), simply include  the scraped seeds of a vanilla bean and the pod in your sugar, mix well, and bury the vanilla pod.
  • Both the Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta and Chocolate Panna Cotta variations are rich, creamy and incredibly satisfying desserts, so if short on time, even a single layer version would be a crowd pleaser.
  • You can make this dessert up to 2 days ahead--simply keep refrigerated and whip up the cream topping a few hours ahead of serving.

Good luck & enjoy!