Vanilla Bean Panna cotta with Passion Fruit Caramel Sauce

Once again, heavy cream was sitting in my fridge begging me to do something with it. Maybe I need to stop buying heavy cream when I don’t have a real plan to use it!

This heavy cream especially needed to be used though. It cost me about $6!

This creamery is in northern California. Just the glass bottle added an extra $2 to the price of this pint of whipping cream! I guess, in theory, I can take this to a recycling place and get my $2 back. The bottle is so neat though, that we will probably keep it and use it. I am thinking… homemade coffee creamer!

I posted about this book in my root beer float macaron post. It has some custard recipes as well as the whole chapter about macarons.

I made a few changes to the recipe so I will go ahead and post it.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit Caramel Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
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Adapted from Patisserie


Panna Cotta

  • 6 grams powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup vanilla sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (from your vanilla sugar canister)

Passion Fruit Caramel

  • 1/4 cup vanilla sugar
  • 1/4 cup passion fruit juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean


Panna Cotta

In a small bowl, soak the powdered gelatin in about 1/4 cup of the heavy cream. Let it sit while you bring the rest of the heavy cream and the vanilla sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Remove the pan from the heat, scrape the gelatin and cream mixture into the pan with the hot cream, and whisk until the gelatin has dissolved.

Strain the panna cotta into a serving dish and chill until set, about 3 hours.

Passion Fruit Caramel

Cook the 1/4 cup of vanilla sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts and turns a medium amber color.

Reduce the heat to low and carefully stir in the passion fruit juice. Stir in the water.

Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes,then strain into a heatproof bowl. Let the caramel cool completely. Drizzle over the panna cotta right before serving.

I have seen gelatin sheets in the Asian market but I have not seen them in a grocery store like Albertsons. Or maybe I haven’t looked hard enough. The original recipe calls for gelatin sheets, but I improvised and weighed out my gelatin powder instead. I ended up with 6 grams instead of 5 like I was supposed to. Oops! I didn’t want to make a mess of trying to to put back 1 gram of gelatin powder so I just went with 6 grams.


Now the gelatin does seem to set after you let it sit in the heavy cream, but once you whisk it into the hot cream mixture in the pan, it dissolves fine and does not clump or give the final product an odd texture.

The gelatin and cream had a tapioca-like texture and did not look very appetizing. I’m so glad it dissolved into the mixture properly though!

The original recipe also called for the seeds of one vanilla bean. I love baking with vanilla sugar and always have some on hand. So, instead of using a vanilla bean, I just used my vanilla sugar. If you would like to make your own vanilla sugar, here is a link to the method for that. You won’t regret it! If you do not have vanilla sugar on hand, then scrape the seeds of one vanilla bean into the cream mixture and then put the vanilla bean in there too!

One note, I am not sure how vanilla extract would work in this recipe. It’s possible that vanilla extract would not provide a strong enough flavor. I would be willing to give it a try though with my next custard recipe.

My cream mixture before boiling. The vanilla bean in the pan is a used bean from my vanilla sugar canister.


There is something wrong with this picture. I am using a round mesh colander over a square dish! One nice thing about this recipe is that I didn’t have to use ramekins, although I’m sure those would work too for this!
The hot panna cotta mixture is now ready to go in the fridge. I put plastic wrap over it and did not press it against the top like I usually do with custard.

Once I had the panna cotta in the fridge, it was time to make the caramel. This is the part that I was very, very scared to do! I have never made caramel before and was afraid I would waste my hard-earned passion fruit juice.

Passion fruits are a pain to “juice.” I got about 1/4 cup of juice out of 7 passion fruit. I let the pulp drain for a while longer after I had what I needed and did get maybe another 1/8 cup of juice. I know the seeds are edible, but I haven’t tried them yet in a dessert!
1/4 cup of vanilla sugar and another used vanilla bean.

1/4 cup of vanilla sugar does not look like very much when it is in the pan!

The sugar is starting to melt. Now, I thought you weren’t supposed to stir your sugar when you’re making caramel. But I went ahead and did it.
Not quite medium amber I think. Also, the sugar isn’t completely melted yet.
The end result after adding the passion fruit juice and water, then straining into a measuring cup.

Now, the caramel LOOKED like the right color, but it didn’t seem like it was the right texture. I thought it would be a little more “syrupy.” It ended up being okay though and tasted tart from the passion fruit.


We were bad and did not share this with the kids. The kids got mini cupcakes for dessert, while Josh and I ate this after they went to bed. This is definitely a perfect date night at home dessert. It was a little complicated for me since I had never made it before, but next time, I should know better what I am doing. Josh wants me to make a lemon one next!


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4 thoughts on “Vanilla Bean Panna cotta with Passion Fruit Caramel Sauce

  1. Panna cotta is one of my favourite desserts especially with real vanilla beans for flavouring.. And the passionfruit sauce is a great idea.

    If you want a thicker ‘caramel’ type sauce, you can add some whipping cream to the sauce and cook it down. The juice though is going to thin it down so you can always try to concentrate the juice by boiling it to reduce the volume before adding it to the sauce. I have some passionfruit jam which I might use to flavour the sauce. Orange juice is tasty too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh next time I will be sure to do that! I didn’t even think of reducing the juice down. Passion fruit caramel might be something I just want to have in the fridge all the time. I did tell my boys I might make ice cream tomorrow 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve had a similar experience with using a fresh juice but having the flavour being muted. I’m sure you’ll have lots of great ideas for the future. I even thought of using pomegranate juice and getting a flavour similar to pomegranate molasses (juice, sugar and lemon juice).

        Liked by 1 person

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