Fig Leaf Panna Cotta

Last month, when I wrote about ‘cooking with leaves’, my friend Milli - of Milli’s Kitchen - asked whether I’d ever used fig leaves as an infusion. To be honest, it was the first time I’d ever used blackcurrant leaves to flavour a dish, and I was still buoyed with the success of that. So the answer was no - my only experience of fig leaves was in lovely, oily, savoury dolma. Never anything more elaborate.

So I took the opportunity, when I went home last weekend, to continue my experiments - and scrump some of my mum’s figs (and leaves, and jam…)

Smeeton Westerby Fig Tree

I decided to make a panna cotta, as I was also continuing my experiments with gelatin. It’s something I have been a bit terrified of in the past. Probably because I started my adventures with gelatin by wanging it rather than following a recipe, which is never a good idea when confronting slightly tricky ingredients. Several disasters resulted in a deep-set fear of the stuff. So I’m now using a ‘get back on the horse’ mentality, and cooking with heaps…and it turns out that it’s not that tricky after all. 

Anyway, both the fig leaf flavour, and the gelatin was a triumph - which is why I am recording this recipe here. As it’s one which I would encourage anyone to try if they stumble across some fig leaves.
So keep your eyes peeled. Since I started looking, it’s remarkable how many fig trees there are in both countryside and city

Fig Leaf Panna Cotta
(Serves 4)

250ml milk
250ml cream
30g caster sugar
8-10 fig leaves, cut into quarters (to maximise surface area for the purpose of infusion)
3 sheets of gelatin
Good fig jam/fig compote (even with added geletin, if you want to make it into a jelly-like tower)

1. ‘Bloom’ the gelatin - by putting the three transparent sheets in a bowl and covering them with cold water.

2. Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan. Add the sugar. And then add the fig leaves. Stir constantly over a low-medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Allow the milk-cream solution to heat until it’s close to simmer. Keep it at round that temperature for a couple of minutes, and then take it off the heat.

3. Let the milk-cream mixture stand for five minutes, to allow the fig leaves carry on infusing, and allow the liquid to cool a little (though you want to keep it warm - so no longer than five minutes, and not in the fridge). Strain through a sieve into a measuring jug, removing the fig leaves in the process.

4. Add the jelly-like gelatin to the warm jug of fig leaf-infused milk and cream. Stir.

5. At this point, I put a tablespoon of some of mum’s fig jam into the bottom of each hole in a silicone muffin mould tray. If I had more time, then I think that I might have added some gelatin to a fig compote, and spooned that into the moulds in advance. But fig jam was just delicious, and ‘non-gelatined’ fig compote would also work. Because fig contains a lot of pectin, it becomes quite thick-set anyway, so when turned out, is a nice, sweet mound of intense fig-flavour on top of the panna cotta  - and if it drizzles down the side, well, who cares?!
Note - this step is not necessary if you want to just make a traditional, white panna cotta.

6. Pour the fig leaf-infused liquid into the silicon muffin tin, over the fig jam/compote. Refrigerate for at least two hours. To serve, turn out onto a plate decorated with…a fig leaf. 


  1. says

    I’m a great believer in ‘wanging it’ (is this in the dictionary?) and I love the idea of leaf-infusion, something that makes immediate sense to me, but as yet untried (except for geranium leaf). I too have been scared of gelatin, but will now reconsider. Gorgeous recipe.

  2. says

    This is the first I’ve heard of leaf infusions- what a cracking idea! Tempting as it is to try this myself with my favourite Panna Cotta, it’ll probably just end up as ‘Smoggy Grass Infused Panna Cotta’ from the mean streets of London

  3. says

    Rachel, this looks sublime, I’m so happy you tried it! The panna cotta I tried to recreate was from one I had eaten at Dabbous, so I wasn’t going to top it

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