Vanilla Chai Panna Cotta is a silky smooth panna cotta recipe filled with the comforting spices of chai. It also happens to be a perfect dessert for entertaining.
The easiest fancy dessert
Have you ever made panna cotta? Have you ever eaten panna cotta? I always thought of panna cotta as that fancy Italian dessert and for the longest time I never attempted to make it because I thought it must be difficult. Surely, something that tastes that good must be tricky to make. Plus, posh restaurants serve it so it must be tricky and far too posh for the likes of lil ol’ me. Well I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
I discovered just how incredibly easy it is to make (pinky promise) last year and I’ve been dreaming up new variations ever since. Check out the simple ingredient list.
- Flavour of your choice.
That’s it. So easy.
It’s around this time of year when Christmas decorations are everywhere and I’m dreaming of roast turkey and mums sausage rolls that, for some reason, I start craving Chai. It’s not strange really. Chai is a blend of aromatic and comforting spices like cardamom, ginger and cloves with black tea. It’s like Christmas in a cup of tea 🙂 So this Vanilla Chai Panna Cotta is actually perfect for this time of year, right? All at once, warming, soothing and uplifting.
Panna cotta must be a Christmas thing for me, because I just realised I did a Boozy Eggnog Panna Cotta recipe for Christmas last year.
This Vanilla Chai Panna Cotta gets it’s flavour from the fact that you let the chai steep in the hot milk for 15 minutes while you sit down and have a nice cup of Chai. Then once those flavours have infused, you remove the spices and add the gelatine, cream, sugar and vanilla and in minutes, it’s done. Into the fridge for 4 hours, then serve to your about-to-be-seriously-impressed guests. And you didn’t even need to break a sweat.
These cute little pots of creamy goodness are topped with an easy peasy pistachio brittle. This is literally just sugar and a little water in a pan, some spices and pistatchios and your done.
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PS. If you’re a regular reader, you might remember the Wedding Cake I was talking about last week in my Christmas Shortbread post that I was making for my cousins wedding. Well here it is.
Vanilla Chai Panna Cotta
For the Panna Cotta
- 1 3/4 cups whole milk, in 2 parts - see recipe
- 6 chai tea bags, good quality
- 2 cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 3 teaspoons powdered gelatine
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 1 1/2 cups cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons white sugar (notes)
- 1 tablespoon water (notes)
- 1 tablespoon pistachios, roughly chopped (notes)
- Pinch allspice
- Pinch ground cinnamon
- Pinch salt
For the Panna Cotta
- Pour 1 cup of cold milk into a saucepan and add the teabags, cinnamon stick, cloves, ginger and allspice. Sit over low heat swirling the pan every so often, until the milk is steaming and bubbles start appearing around the edge. Turn off the heat.
- Cover saucepan and allow the flavours to infuse for 15 minutes. Then strain the mixture, making sure to squeeze the teabags well.
- Rinse out the saucepan and add the final 3/4 cup of cold milk. Sprinkle the gelatine over the top. Allow the gelatine to "bloom" for 5 minutes (it should look a bit wrinkly by the end).
- Turn the heat on low under the saucepan, add back the chai infused milk and stir for a minute or two until the gelatine has dissolved.
- Add the sugar and stir again until dissolved. This should only take another minute or two. Make sure not to let the milk boil, you just want to heat it gently until everything is dissolved and no lumps remain.
- Take the saucepan off the heat. Pour in the cream, vanilla and salt and mix until thoroughly combined. Strain the mixture again to make sure you aren’t left with any lumps of undissolved gelatine.
- Pour into dishes or moulds. Place immediately in the fridge and allow to set for at least 4 hours (or they can be made a day ahead). See notes to unmould.
For the pistachio brittle
- Line a small baking tray with baking paper.
- In small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
- Allow it to bubble and use a wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar crystals that form around the sides. Swirl the pan from time to time so that it cooks evenly, until the caramel turns amber. Quickly add the pistachios, spices and salt and stir through, then pour out onto the prepared tray. Once set, use a rolling pin or mortar and pestle to roughly crush the pistachio brittle. Store in a sealed container until required. Sprinkle on top of the Panna Cotta just before serving.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (4 teaspoons worldwide)
- To unmould, fill a dish with warm water just an inch or so, then sit the moulds into the warm water for 10-20 seconds. Place your serving dish on top of the Panna Cotta mould and flip it over. Give the Panna Cotta a gentle shake. They may take a little bit of encouragement but should slide out perfectly. These will melt if left for too long so make sure you don't turn them out until ready to serve.