Crème Fraiche Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries and Herbs

By • May 29, 2013 • 6 Comments

Author Notes: Ever since having crème fraiche panna cotta at Gramercy Tavern earlier this year with my husband, I knew I wanted to recreate it at home. Served in miniature ramekins, with a dot of bright green tarragon oil and a few supremes of grapefruit on the top, the panna cottas were presented as a gift from the kitchen before our main desserts arrived. They were beautiful and so, so good, by far the best version of panna cotta I’ve ever had. I’m convinced that crème fraiche makes everything better.

Back at home, I went about my research. I combined favorite elements from multiple panna cotta recipes I found online and in my cookbooks, including ones by Claudia Fleming and Tom Valenti. I also decided to use turbinado sugar versus granulated white sugar for more flavor. My first attempt at making them was a success, fortuitous since I was making them for a dinner party and didn’t have a back-up plan. With a nod to Gramercy, I chose to serve mine straight from the ramekins, topped with macerated strawberries and tarragon off to one side. They went over very well.

Any number of fruit and herb combinations would be lovely here depending on the season. A few ideas are strawberries and tarragon, blackberries and basil, raspberries and mint, and blueberries and lemon thyme. Or you could copy Gramercy and go with grapefruit and tarragon -- nothing wrong with that.

Makes six 8-ounce servings or eight 6-ounce servings

  • ¼ oz (or 1 package) powdered gelatin
  • 1 cup crème fraiche
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup buttermilk (whole-milk preferred)
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1½ tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1 cup of fresh berries or fruit, hulled and sliced (see headnote for ideas)
  • about 1 T finely chopped fresh herbs (see headnote for ideas)
  • A few teaspoons of sugar, or to taste
  1. Place 2 ½ tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin on top, and let soften for 5 minutes.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the crème fraiche, heavy cream, buttermilk, turbinado sugar, and vanilla bean (if using), stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat before the mixture reaches a simmer. Immediately add the gelatin mixture and vanilla bean paste or extract (if using in lieu of vanilla bean), whisking until the gelatin dissolves. (If using a vanilla bean, scrape remaining seeds from the bean and add them to the mixture.) Strain the crème fraiche mixture through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup with a spout.
  3. Pour the mixture into eight 6-ounce ramekins, bowls, or parfait glasses (or six 8-ounce ones). Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 3 to 4 hours.
  4. About 10 minutes before serving, combine fruit and herbs in a bowl, and add a small amount of sugar to the fruit. Let the sweetness of your fruit guide the amount of sugar. Let macerate for about 5 to 10 minutes. Top each panna cotta with a spoonful of fruit, and serve additional on the side if desired.

Comments (6) Questions (0)


about 1 year ago JanetFL

Another great recipe, Emily! I have a garden full of tarragon and will be trying your recipe this week. Thank you!


about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks Janet! I'd be thrilled if you try it! As someone with a fully shaded yard, with some potted herbs strategically placed to soak up as much direct sun as possible, I'm oh-so-envious of your garden full of tarragon! : )


about 1 year ago JanetFL

I guess I shouldn't tell you that it comes back every year, here in cold Colorado!


about 1 year ago EmilyC

Haha, no, you really shouldn't tell me that!


about 1 year ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

What fresh herbs do your ecommend for this? There are so many possibilities.


about 1 year ago EmilyC

I used strawberries and tarragon, and I've included a few ideas on other berry and herb combinations in the headnote. You're right, so many (delicious) possibilities!