Panna Cotta with Lemon-Butterfly Pea Glaze

Panna Cotta with Lemon-Butterfly Pea Glaze

Serves 6.

We love the simple Italian dessert panna cotta. Here, we make it distinctly Curio by infusing the cream with vanilla and cardamom for a subtly complex flavor. The lemon glaze is scented with cardamom and gets its jewel-like color from butterfly pea flowers, a rare herb we source from urban farmers in Cartagena, Colombia.

Note: You can make the panna cotta and glaze a day or two ahead of time, storing them separately in the fridge. The glaze will thicken in the fridge, so you’ll need to warm it to return it to a spoonable consistency — do that in a saucepan or by popping it into the microwave for a few seconds.


For the panna cotta
1 packet unflavored gelatin powder
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla powder or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

For the glaze
1 tablespoon (heaping) butterfly pea flowers
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
5 cardamom pods, cracked
2 strips lemon peel with no white pith


Make the panna cotta  Set out six ramekins or custard pots. Sprinkle the gelatin powder over the milk in its measuring cup and set aside for the gelatin to soften.

Put the cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla powder or paste into a heavy saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure the sugar has dissolved. Boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk the gelatin into the milk, making sure there are no lumps. Drizzle the milk into the cream mixture, whisking gently to combine thoroughly. Stir in the ground cardamom and transfer into a pitcher or glass measuring cup for pouring.

Divide the cream mixture equally among six small custard pots or ramekins, about 5 ounces per. (This is much easier if you set the pots or ramekins on a tray or into a casserole before filling them!) Set aside to cool for 15 minutes, then transfer to the fridge.

Make the glaze  Put the butterfly pea flowers into a small bowl, pour 1/3 cup very hot water over them, and set aside to infuse for 5 minutes. The water will turn an intense blue as the flowers infuse.

Put the lemon juice into a small saucepan and sprinkle the cornstarch over it. Stir until the starch has dissolved and there are no lumps. Add the sugar, salt, and cardamom pods to the pan and set it over medium-high heat. Bring the liquids to a boil, then reduce the heat so the glaze is simmering. It will look ‘milky’ at this point.

Strain the blue butterfly pea water into the saucepan — as the blue water interacts with the acidic lemon juice, the glaze will immediately take on a beautiful violet color. Continue to cook the glaze, stirring occasionally, until it is translucent and thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the lemon peel, and leave to infuse and cool. Strain the glaze into a small bowl or jar and discard the cardamom pods and lemon peel.

For serving  The panna cotta will be set after about 4 hours in the fridge (overnight is fine, too). Spoon a generous teaspoon of glaze atop each pot or ramekin, tilting it back and forth so that the glaze spreads and coats the surface.

For the best presentation, serve within a few hours of adding the glaze so that its color doesn’t diffuse into the panna cotta.




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