Vanilla Panna Cotta with a Pomegranate Jelly

Oftentimes I feel rather sheepish when guests and friends try something I have made and gush over it, praising my culinary skills and gourmet prowess. I feel sheepish because really, everything I make is so ultra simple. I love good quality ingredients that just need a little tweak here and there – without too much fuss. This is not really a “panna cotta” (cooked cream in Italian) but is a lighter version of the same dessert made with yogurt instead. Its lighter – healthier and very adaptable to different flavours. Once you have mastered the base of the dessert you can go all crazy and inventive with flavours and toppings.

This particular dessert appears on my menu is many guises – you can flavour the yoghurt with rose water, orange blossom, orange zest, cinnamon – the list is endless! And you can add a fruity jelly – or not! I love using freshly squeezed Pomegranate or mango juice as they just seem to work well with the creamy cool yogurt. Beware of some fruit juices as they wont set well – there should be this info on the packet of the gelatine you buy. You could also just serve this with a fresh coulis – I love raspberry and lime 🙂

Its important to use the BEST natural yogurt you can get yer paws on – I like Buffalo Ridge or the double cream Ayershire (I find the buffalo milk yogurt has the most incredible flavour).

I don’t want to waffle too much here but a quick note on gelatine. Those of you who are vegetarian may be upset that I have used this ingredient. I am not going to argue the pros and cons of gelatine with you as if you don’t eat animal products I would never convince you otherwise but I am just not sure of any other ingredient that works as well. Agar agar is a plant based alternative but it needs to be boiled hard in order for it  to work so I am not sure how you could accomplish a panna cotta made with coconut yogurt that is vegan/veggie – would love to hear any comments about this if you have tried it!

Serves 6-8  make the day before you want to serve!


  • 4 gelatine leaves (Woolworths do gelatine “leaves”)
  • 650ml full-fat milk
  • 150g unrefined golden caster sugar (Natura do fabulous sugars)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract – OR 1 tsp orange blossom water & Saffron water (take 1 small pinch of saffron and 1/2 tsp sugar and grind in a pestle and mortar until you have a fine powder – then add 50ml water. You will now have a saffron brew – you can keep this in a jar and use when you want – on rice – in a chicken stew – or even a fancy omelette) depending on the flavour you want!
  • 350g Greek style full cream yoghurt
  • Zest of one washed lemon (avoid the white pith)
  • Grapeseed or sunflower oil for greasing (I had a brain fart moment in my video below and used butter to grease my molds  – it must be oil or it will harden at cold temps and then make it hard for you to release the pannacotta –  that’s why they came out a little jagged in the video!)

For the jelly layer – if you are making it

  • 150ml pomegranate juice & 150ml orange juice mixed together (I find just plain pomegranate juice is too tart)
  • 2 sheets gelatine

For a fruit puree:

This completely depends on what fruit you want to add – in the video below I add an apricot puree which is basically a handful of dried turkish apricots soaked and then blended with enough liquid to have a puree. You could also whizz raspberries up in the blender with some sugar – or even strawberries or passion fruit – any fruit that offers up an tart contrast to the smooth creamy panna cotta. The link below will take you straight to the video showing you how to make a different version of this Panna Cotta – but the instructions are more or less the same!


  1. For the panna cotta, put the gelatine leaves in a dish of cold water and leave to soak for five minutes. They need to be submerged

  2. Place the milk, sugar and lemon zest in a small pan and heat though gently, just enough for the sugar to dissolve. Take great care not to boil the milk – it must just be well warmed through. Take it off the stove once warmed.

  3. Meanwhile, put the yoghurt in a bowl and whisk a little to get rid of any lumps, stirring to loosen it up and set aside.

  4. The gelatine leaves should be soft a pliable after about 10 mins. Lift each leaf out of the water and drain or rub the water off and drop them into the warm milk mixture and stir until dissolved with a whisk. If the milk mixture is too hot it will destroy the gelling properties of the gelatine but it must be warm enough for the leaf to dissolve – goldilocks zone! Leave this mixture to cool even more.

  5. This recipe will fill 6 x 200ml ramikins or 8 x 150ml – you can even use small glass tumblers here if you are nervous to turn the panna cotta’s out onto a plate – they taste just the same eaten out of the glass I assure you! I have even used a small pretty teacup! Just lightly grease your ramekin if you are planning to turn the panna cotta out – you can skip this step if you are serving it in a glass.

  6. Mix the slightly cooled milk mixture with the yogurt mixture and whisk gently till fully combined. You can add your vanilla here if that’s your flavouring of choice – or you can add the orange blossom water & saffron water as per my video.

  7. Pour the mixture into your ramekins or glasses in equal measure and place on a tray in the fridge to set for 3-6 hours at least or until they are firm. I make these the day before so I don’t have to think about dessert on the day! You need the panna cotta to have set before you pour your jelly layer on-top – so start making the jelly layer a few hours after you have set the panna cotta.

  8. To make your fruity jelly layer: Place your juices in a little pan and warm gently on the stove. You are going to do the same thing here as you did before with the gelatine leaves – soaking them in cold water first and then adding them to the warm mixture to dissolve. Place this mixture in a measuring jug and place in the fridge to cool – but not set – 30 mins max as you don’t want to pour it warm over the panna cotta.

  9. Once the panna cotta is more or less set you can pour a little of the cooled fruit juice/jelly mixture on top of each panna cotta. Then you can leave it in the fridge there to set completely so you have a beautiful glass like surface.

  10. When you are ready to serve decorate with some fresh [pomegranate seeds or edible flowers if you like. And you could even make these 2 days before your dinner or lunch as they do keep rather well – just remember to cover them with cling film!

My boys and other kids seem to love this dessert as much as the adults do so its a win win all around!