Cardamom panna cotta with rhubarb is an elegant, yet simple, dessert that makes use of seasonal rhubarb or even strawberries. A creamy base is infused with cardamom, making it as irresistible as it is easy.
There are several fantastic things about panna cotta. Firstly, you can make them a day ahead, and secondly you can add your own signature by including different flavors and fruit depending on the season. In the spring and early summer, we have an abundance of rhubarb growing in the garden, then I switch to fresh berries in the middle of the summer, and figs and pears in the autumn. Cardamom is such a wonderful ingredient – it brings citrus, mint, and spice to the panna cotta. You can also swap it with a couple of teaspoons of rosewater or orange blossom water.–Clodagh McKenna
CAN I MAKE PANNA COTTA AHEAD OF TIME?
In addition to everything else this lovely little recipe has going for it, there’s something else that hasn’t been mentioned yet. It requires no oven and can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored, covered in the refrigerator. It’s perfect for crazy holidays when the stove is already spoken for, as well as for casual summer entertaining.
Cardamom Panna Cotta with Rhubarb
For the panna cotta
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom pods crushed
- 1 ounce superfine sugar or just blitz granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground
- 2 gelatin sheets or 1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin powder
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
For the poached rhubarb
- 2 stalks (6 oz) rhubarb fresh or frozen, cut into 1 inch (25 mm) pieces
- 2 3/4 ounces (generous 1/3 cup) superfine sugar or just blitz granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground
- 1/4 cup water
Make the panna cotta
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, cardamom pods, and sugar and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until reduced by a third, 10 to 30 minutes.
- If using gelatin sheets, in a small saucepan, soak the gelatin sheets in the milk until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove the gelatin, heat the milk until boiling, then return the gelatin to the milk and stir until dissolved.If using gelatin powder, in a heatproof measuring cup, combine the gelatin with 1 tablespoon cold milk and let bloom until soft, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the remaining milk until just boiling. Slowly add 1/4 cup of the hot milk to the gelatin mixture to temper, then pour the warmed gelatin mixture into the hot milk.
- Pour the milk and gelatin mixture into the cooked cream, stir and then strain through a sieve (to catch the cardamom pods).
- Divvy the liquid between four serving glasses. Leave to cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until set, about 2 hours, or up to overnight.
Make the poached rhubarb
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the chopped rhubarb, sugar, and water. Cook for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until tender but still holding its shape, about 10 minutes more. Let cool.
- Remove the panna cotta from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving so that they warm up a little. Spoon some poached rhubarb on top of each panna cotta and serve.
Strawberry Panna Cotta variationNo rhubarb? You can easily make this by swapping strawberries, or any of your favorite berries, in for the rhubarb.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
I was happily surprised about how easy it is to make panna cotta. I've always watched the process on the cooking channels and thought it needed advanced cooking skills. I didn't make the poached rhubarb (I don't like it) so, I made poached strawberries and it was superb. It was as easy as reading the instructions which were very detailed.
Final results: delicious! The cardamom flavor (this is my first time using cardamom in a sweet recipe) and the fragrance gave a unique taste. The amount of sugar was perfect and balanced with the poached strawberries. I tried one serving of the cardamom panna cotta after an hour cooling period and left the other to cool overnight.
What a simple yet impressive dessert this is! The recipe for cardamom panna cotta with rhubarb is so easy to make and can be made in advance to save some time. The panna cotta itself is creamy, smooth and has a melt-in-your-mouth texture. I absolutely loved the cardamom flavor.
One of my most favorite dessert flavors is cardamom infused cream (fabulous on baked peaches and I love making homemade cardamom ice cream). I have never made a cardamom panna cotta so I was immediately drawn to this recipe. A short and simple ingredient list, a little prep and wait time—before you know it you have an elegant, ethereal dessert. The cream was perfectly flavored, so perfectly flavored I wanted to bathe in it. Also, no rhubarb to be found, so I bought some pears to accompany it as suggested in the recipe headnote. Looking forward to finding leaf gelatin and trying this one again.
Not only was this incredibly delicious it was incredibly easy. This was my first time making a panna cotta and using gelatin. I've seen the process on cooking competitions on TV and more times than not it doesn't work out so I never bothered trying. Now I can't wait to make another batch! The flavor of this cardamom panna cotta with rhubarb was perfect. It gave just enough of the spice to balance with the sweetness. I can't wait to make this again.
Panna cotta is one my favorite desserts, and is a relatively hard one to find. I think there is this misconception that it is overly complicated or "too fancy" to make, which couldn't be further from the truth. In this recipe, the use of cardamom in the cream pairs very nicely with the poached rhubarb, and the bright shock of pink that the rhubarb displays on top of the finished dessert makes for lovely presentation (though remember, if your rhubarb stems are green they won't make a pink compote. They'll still taste great).
This is a soft-set panna cotta, with half as much gelatin as one would find in other recipes—I wouldn't recommend it if someone wanted to unmold the finished dessert. The reduction of the cream creates a pretty close facsimile to sweetened condensed milk which in turn definitely contributes to the final texture—smooth, creamy, and without the "gelatin jiggle" that some panna cottas can have. I think there's also some nice room within this recipe for flavor variations, both for the panna cotta and with the topping.
Panna cotta, plain and simple, is hard to resist, but if you have rhubarb, it will be spectacular. The infusing of cardamom was a new version for me, and it came off beautifully both times I made this. You can adjust the intensity, if you wish, by being more restrained with the time you leave the cardamom in the cream. Curiosity about the cardamom overcame me, so I finally had to try alternate berries for my seasonal fruit, though I now have a plan to stash some rhubarb in my own freezer as soon as it is available.
This recipe for cardamom panna cotta is forgivingly written to serve in the container, avoiding any worries about turning it out (and making it ideal to share, deliver, or take on a picnic). Once you master the method, you can oil the ramekin or petit canning jar with a smidgen of vegetable oil and plate it in the traditional way, unmolded.
I found that by being watchful (and temperature surfing between 165-180℉) I could approach bubbling but avoiding the overly ambitious simmering which I found took this more towards clotted cream than delicate panna cotta. With very watchful simmering (on the low end of barely a bubble, and a bit less reduction in the cream while infusing the cardamom), it ended up with a delightful wobble.
The cardamom flavor is a nice fragrant addition - I already love the smell of freshly ground cardamom, and find the crushed pods are a great addition to rice, tea and even coffee (cold infused). The more I use it, the more I appreciate it and so my supply is pretty fresh, and I always reach for the whole green pods. I used 6-7 pods for this amount of panna cotta.
I desperately wanted to have this with rhubarb (and was genuinely surprised that no grocer had even frozen rhubarb on hand). I would have happily paid any price for hothouse grown. In a moment of odd inspiration, I poached a small amount of cape gooseberries (removing their fancy lantern-husks) so I would have the sweet-tart contrast, similar to rhubarb. That turned out quite decent, though I also gently cooked some blueberries in a bit of sugar and those were very good as well as raspberries...and imagine if you had red currants! Just a small amount is all you need - the star is the panna cotta.
Originally published April 25, 2021