Almond Milk and Vanilla Panna Cotta with a Strawberry and Black Pepper Coulis


Panna cotta is a delightful pudding. Sweet but not too sweet, relatively light and ridiculously easy to make, but shhh don’t tell anyone. Instead of using cows milk I opted for delicious almond milk to give it a slight nutty undertone to accompany the vanilla.


The Pressery has just relaunched with a pure, long-life organic almond milk, which is utterly delicious and perfect for this recipe. The list of London locations where you can purchase the milk is growing by the week so I am sure there will be somewhere near you where you can pick up a carton. Take a look here to find out the locations.


I love the combination of strawberries and black pepper, so thought I would accompany the panna cotta with a smooth coulis made from the two ingredients. Equally you can simply just serve the panna cotta with fresh strawberries with a pinch or two of black pepper.


This sweet delight is perfect after a number of dishes from my recipe library – here are a few to point you in the right direction.

slow cooked lamb with tomatoes, dried fruit and spices, warm lentil and goats cheese salad with a fresh basil dressing, chickpea, chorizo and cod stew, umami rich portable mushrooms, sun dried tomato and black garlic pesto

Let me know how you get on. Do you like the strawberry and black pepper combo?

Almond Milk and Vanilla Panna Cotta with a Strawberry and Black Pepper Coulis

Serves 4-5 (depending on the size of your ramekins)

250ml  almond milk

250ml double cream

2 tbsp agave nectar (or 25g white sugar)

2 vanilla pods or 1 tsp vanilla extract with seeds

3 gelatine leaves


60ml water

30g caster sugar

150g fresh strawberries, stems removed and sliced

1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 4 minutes.
  2. In a pan gently heat the almond milk, cream, agave nectar/sugar and vanilla (if using pods split them lengthways and scoop out the seeds and leave the pods in the milk to infuse). Let it simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  3. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves and place in the pan with the almond milk. Stir well so that it dissolves into milky liquid.
  4. Sieve all the liquid into a jug and discard the vanilla pods if using, and then pour even amounts into your ramekins. Allow to cool before placing in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  5. In a new pan add the water, caster sugar and fresh strawberries and gently heat so that the sugar dissolves.
  6. Use a hand blender to create a smooth sauce. If you find the sauce is too thick do add a little more water at this stage. You are aiming to have a sauce that is the same thickness as a single cream.
  7. For the final stage you have two options. Either sieve the strawberry coulis into a serving jug or if you prefer to have the black pepper bits in the coulis do not strain. Both ways work well, that latter naturally having more pepper bite, which I personally love.
  8. Place the coulis in a serving jug and when it is cools place in the fridge.

To serve the panna cotta, gently use a sharp knife to loosen the top rim of the panna cotta. Then place the bottom of the ramekin in a bowl of hot water for a couple of seconds maximum. Place the serving plate on top of the ramekin and then turn over and gently shake the ramekin so that the panna cotta gently slips onto the plate.

Either allow guests to serve the coulis themselves or place a little around the edge of the panna cotta. Equally you can add fresh fruit as well as the coulis or instead of. Strawberries or blueberries would work beautifully.

As an alternative idea to turning the panna cotta out onto a plate you could serve them in vintage mismatched tea cups.



Chocolate, Chilli and Cinnamon Fondants with Cardamom Chantilly Cream


Happy New Year everyone. As January strides forth I know that everyone sets out with very good intentions to exercise more, drink less, read more, be more sociable, cook more, be healthier and I honestly  think that to rebalance and set goals is a good thing. I am realistic though and I know that by February some of our old ways will have crept back.


This pudding is probably the last thing you feel like eating in January after all the excesses of Christmas, but I think it is definitely a good one to have up your sleeve if you are having guests over. It is rich and decadent (I have to share a pot) and can be made well in advanced. I often make up a batch and then freeze them until I am ready to use them. From frozen, it’s simply a case of putting them in a preheated oven (180 degrees) for 15-17 minutes and then they are ready. If you bake them without freezing them they only take  10-12 minutes.  Sponge like on the outside and rich molten larva on the inside. How easy is that?

Cardamom Chantilly cream is the perfect companion to the fondants and again very quick to whip up, literally. The cream takes the richness off the fondants and I personally love the taste of cardamom so think it works really well with the chocolate. I hope you agree.

So when you are back to eating chocolate give this a try and let me know how you get on. I can guarantee you will impress your guests.


Chocolate, Chilli and Cinnamon Fondants

makes 8

2 tbsp butter, melted

cocoa powder, for dusting

200g cooking chocolate, broken up – I like this one (sometimes I use 100g dark and 100g milk)

200g unsalted butter

200g caster sugar

4 eggs

4 egg yolks only

200g plain flour

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp cinnamon powder

icing sugar for dusting


Cardamom Chantilly Cream

250ml double cream

2 tbsp caster sugar

7 cardamom pods opened and then the seeds ground


1. Using the 2 tablespoons of melted butter brush the inside of the fondant moulds and then place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

2. Remove from the freezer and coat once again and immediately after coating one fondant mould add a little cocoa powder so that you completely cover the inside of the mould.

3. Preheat your oven (I use a fan oven) to 180 degrees.

4. In a pan gently boil some water and then place a bowl in the pan with the broken cooking chocolate and butter. Let the butter and chocolate gradually melt, stirring at intervals.

5. In a mixing bowl whisk (I use an electric whisk) the eggs, egg yolks and sugar so that it thickens slightly. This will take a couple of minutes. Add the flour and then gradually pour in the melted chocolate and butter. Continue to whisk. Add the chilli flakes and cinnamon. Taste to check on flavour. I sometimes add more chilli flakes at this stage, but it’s up to you!

6. Pour the chocolate mixture into a measuring jug and then pour into the moulds so that they are 3/4 full.

7. You can either put them in the freezer at this point, ready to use at another time or you can place in the oven immediately. If cooking from frozen place them on the centre shelf for 15-17 minutes. If cooking immediately cook them for 10 minutes. I like them really soft in the middle but if you prefer them less runny in the middle then leave them in the oven for an extra minute or two max.

8. Once cooked leave to rest for a minute before placing a plate on top of the mould and turning upside down so that it is the right way up. The mould will easily come away from the chocolate fondant. Should it need a helping hand gently shake making sure to hold the plate firmly in place.

9. Dust with a little icing sugar and serve with cardamom chantilly cream, which perfectly balances the richness of the chocolate with the smooth subtle tones of the the cardamom and cream.


Cardamom Chantilly Cream

1. Pour the double cream into a mixing bowl and whisk so that it firms up and peaks are created.

2. Add the caster sugar and ground cardamom and continue to whisk so that it become light, thick and fluffy.

Store in the fridge until ready to use.