Dig in: Basil Panna Cotta

Savory herbs show their sweet side in this sublime dessert.
Basil panna cotta from The Spence/Andrea Litvin

Basil panna cotta from The Spence/Andrea Litvin

Garnished with macerated strawberries, Andrea Litvin's basil panna cotta makes a stellar summer treat.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Heidi Geldhauser/Our Labor of Love

Image courtesy of Heidi Geldhauser/Our Labor of Love

Garnished with macerated strawberries, Andrea Litvin's basil panna cotta makes a stellar summer treat.

Thanks to her mother, pastry chef Andrea Litvin can’t bear to eat a store-bought peach. “She was always bringing home amazing peaches from school,” says Litvin, whose mother worked in the University of Georgia’s horticulture department. “I don’t find a generic peach the least bit satiating.”

Litvin’s mother worked in pomology studies, researching salt tolerance in peach rootstocks and the ways plants react to frost protection. At home, she helped Litvin grow her first zucchini, which became baked squash. “It had such an intense flavor, she says. “When you put the effort into growing food, you find it far more satisfying and precious. You don’t want to waste any part of a plant when you’ve been watching it grow for three months!”

Savory herbs like rue and borage find their way into Litvin’s desserts at The Spence restaurant in Atlanta—and basil steals the show in her panna cotta recipe below—but lots of vegetables make the cut as well. “I use a lot of savory herbs in my desserts, but I also find myself reaching towards things like corn, cucumber, peas and even eggplant,” she says. “I’ve found many culinary traditions where these types of things are used in sweet applications. It’s easy to find inspiration in any produce when it's beautiful and has really defined flavor.”

Basil Panna Cotta

11 ounces heavy cream
.5 ounce sugar
1 sheet gelatin
3 medium-sized basil leaves
1 cup strawberries

Combine the sugar and heavy cream and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the basil. Let steep for 30 minutes.

Bloom the gelatin in ice water.

Strain and reheat the cream mixture. Whisk in the gelatin sheet.

Pour into your preferred container and cover in plastic wrap. Let chill for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Litvin garnishes her plate with a cup of strawberries macerated in 1 part white wine, 1 part simple syrup and a bit of fresh vanilla bean. 

Keep Reading

Next Up

Basil Banana Cake Recipe

Make use of overripe bananas in this classic cake with a garden twist.

Basil-Beer Grilled Chicken

Summer is synonymous with grilling and this chicken recipe is just the ticket for al fresco eating.

Dig in: Backyard Mint Ice Cream

A DIY frozen treat that tastes just as good as the scoop shops. Seriously.

Chocolate Panna Cotta Recipe

Top off the evening with something sweet and chic, like this chocolate panna cotta. Your guests will love each unexpected layer and the martini glass it comes in.

Dig in: Charred Wedge Salad

Lettuce explore new ways to grill greens!

Dig In: Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Potatoes and pimentos add body and spice to this awesome appetizer.

Coffee Panna Cotta Recipe

This rich and velvety custard is not just delicious, but easy to make, too. It's truly the perfect ending to a romantic meal.

Dig In: Crudité with French Anchoïade Dipping Sauce

Raw garden vegetables make an awesome appetizer.

Dig In: Fried Eggplant With Honey

Soak in the goodness of this traditional Spanish appetizer.

Dig In: Kale Mayonnaise

Toast the health benefits of kale with this great bread spread.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.