Sesame Vanilla Panna Cotta

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with an idea? Well, this recipe was just that! I woke up to “make a Sesame Panna Cotta!”. So here it is, the creamiest most indulgent, perfectly firm, yet velvety-soft panna cotta.

Sesame is probably an unusual flavor for panna cotta, but when I tell you it works, please trust me, it does! Topped with a crunchy and slightly salted sesame brittle candy, this dessert will blow your mind. Seriously delicious!

The process of making this dessert is relatively simple. A few basic steps will help make it a bit “fancier” but in reality there is nothing complicated about making this dessert. Let me show you!

How I made this Sesame Vanilla Panna Cotta:

Ingredients needed for sesame panna cotta

Start by dissolving the gelatin in the COLD milk. Whisk well and set aside.

cold milk and gelatin mixed and set aside

In a medium saucepan, add the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla paste. Whisk well to help the sugar dissolve.

heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan

Bring the cream mixture to a simmer and turn it off.

At this point, add the milk and gelatin mixture into the hot heavy cream mixture.

Tip! Sometimes tahini becomes separated and the oil of the sesame paste floats on top. If this happened to your jar of tahini, try to stir and incorporate the hardened tahini with the oil so it’s smooth and creamy all around.

Add the tahini. Whisk in well and pour the whole mixture into a glass bowl.

Line a larger bowl with ice and a bit of water to create an ice bath. Place the smaller glass bowl in the ice bath and whisk the creamy mixture for about 5-7 minutes until it has cooled to room temperature.

Tip! This step can be skipped. The reason for doing this is to help the bits of vanilla paste not sink completely to the bottom of the mold. It will definitely still happen, but by doing this, some of the little specks will be able to be held throughout the panna cotta. As the gelatin starts go get activated, it will hold the vanilla bean specks in position.

panna cotta cream mixture cooling in an ice bath

Spray the ramequins with non stick spray. Pour the mixture into individual ramequins. Fill them 3/4 of the way. Place them in a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Over night is preferable.

Tip! The mixture yields enough for 5 ramequins. You can fill them all the way up and make only 4. The reason I didn’t do it is because this is a very rich dessert and making it a larger portion might be a bit much.

ramequins being filled with panna cotta heavy cream mixture

For the sesame candy:

In a small frying pan, toast the sesame seeds for a few minutes. Watch them carefully as they can burn easily. Once they are toasted, set aside.

Tip! Swirl the pan around to help it from heating too much too quickly. I lift it from the direct heat and then swirl it.

sesame seeds toasting in small pan

On to making the caramel part

In a small sauce pan, add the sugar and let it melt. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.

The sugar will start melting in about 2 minutes.

It will start bubbling and can burn very, very quickly.

Lift the saucepan from the heat and give it a few swirls to help all the sugar get melted evenly.

Tip! Lifting it up from the direct heat helps the sugar cool slightly and not burn so quickly.

Use a spatula to help the sugar melt evenly. Sometimes it clumps up and with the help of a spatula, it can all get incorporated evenly.

The sugar turns into caramel very quickly. Use your senses to determine how rich you want the caramel to be. The darker it gets, the more bitter it becomes, when this happens, the smell changes as well. Smell the caramel, take a look at it’s color and determine if it’s ready.

I look for a dark amber color but not too dark, and the caramel smells like caramel still. Once the caramel starts changing scent and it starts smelling like it’s burning that’s my queue that the caramel should not get any more heat.

Tip! Watch my video below, it shows how quick the sugar melts and how the caramel looks when I remove it from the heat.

sugar melting in a sauce pan.

Once the sugar has reached a dark amber color, pour the mixture over a silicone baking mat.

While it is still hot, sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds and sprinkle sea salt on top.

Tip! When adding the sesame seeds and sea salt, if the caramel is not hot they won’t stick to it.

candy on silicone mat sprinkled with sesame seeds and sea salt

Let the candy cool completely.

Tip! Since the panna cotta has to cool for such a long time, I let the brittle sit out until the panna cotta is ready to unmold.

Once the brittle has cooled completely, brake apart and smash it into large chunks.

large brittle chunks of sesame candy for my panna cotta

Add the large pieces to a ziplock bag and smash the caramel to make the chunks smaller.

Tip! I use a rolling pin to do this.

sesame brittle used on my panna cotta

To unmold the panna cotta, run a rubber spatula all around the edges of the ramequin. Place a plate on top of the ramequin and flip the plate so that the ramequin is now on top. Jiggle the ramequin and unmold.

Sprinkle some of the sesame brittle on top of the panna cotta. Enjoy!

Sesame Panna Cotta

A rich and decadent panna cotta. A velvety soft custard with crunchy sesame and sea salt brittle srpinkled on top, males this unique dessert such a special one.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
CourseDessert
CuisineAmerican, baked goods, holiday
Keywordpanna cotta, panna cotta dessert, sesame dessert
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Cooling Time6 hours

Equipment

  • Ramequins.
  • Glass Bowls, one larger than the other.
  • Silicone mat or parchement paper.

Ingredients

For the Panna Cotta:

  • 2 2/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup cold milk 2% or whole
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)

For the Sesame Brittle:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • a few pinches of sea salt or fleur de sel

Instructions

For the Panna Cotta:

  • Start by dissolving the gelatin in the COLD milk. Whisk well and incorporate, set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, add the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla paste. Whisk well and help the sugar dissolve.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer and immediately turn it off.
  • Add the cold milk and gelatin mixture into the hot, heavy cream mixture.
  • Add the tahini. Whisk in well and pour the whole mixture into a glass bowl.
  • Line a larger bowl with ice and a bit of water to create an ice bath.
  • Place the smaller glass bowl in the ice bath and whisk the creamy mixture for 5-7 minutes until it has cooled to about room temperature.
  • Spray the ramequins with non stick spray.
  • Pour the mixture into the individual ramequins fill them 3/4 of the way.
  • Place them on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Over night is preferable.

For the Sesame Brittle:

  • In a small frying pan, toast the sesame seeds for a few minutes. Watch them carefully as they can burn easily.
  • In a small sauce pan, add the sugar and let it melt. Watch it carefully so it doesn't burn.
  • The sugar will start bubbling and can burn very very quickly.
  • Lift the saucepan from the heat and give it a few swirls to help all the sugar get melted evenly.
  • If the sugar is not melting evenly, use a spatula to help it get incorporated evenly.
  • Once the sugar has reached a dark amber color, pour the mixture over a silicone baking mat.
  • While the caramel is still hot, sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds and sprinkle sea salt on top.
  • Let the candy cool completely and once it's cool brake apart and smash it into large chunks.
  • Place the larger chunks in a ziplock bag and using a rolling pin, smash the candy so it gets broken into smaller bits.

Plating the panna cotta:

  • Unmold the panna cotta by running a rubber spatula all around the sides of the mold.
  • Place the plate you'll serve the panna cotta in right on top of the ramequin.
  • In one swift movement, flip the plate so that the ramequin is now on top and the plate in the bottom.
  • Jiggle the mold so the panna cotta comes loose and it get unmolded on to the plate.
  • Sprinkle some of the sesame brittle on top of the panna cotta and enjoy!

Recipe Video Instructions

Notes

*If you do not have vanilla paste, regular vanilla works as well. 
*You can smash the brittle with anything you want in case you do not have a rolling pin. 

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