strawberry milk with matcha panna cotta

strawberry milk latte with matcha panna cotta thumbnail

Last fall my roommate and I spent an hour in line at the new Machi Machi, a Taiwanese tea shop chain, that had opened up in Toronto – the wait an obvious necessity, my roommate pointed out, as after all, Jay Chou is a fan. We also discovered that Machi Machi drinks make for perfect colour-coded fashion accessories and there is a super cute wall to take photos with (note: none of these infants, dogs or fashionistas are me).

Long wait aside, we both agreed that the fresh strawberry latte with panna cotta (also a fashion necessity) was our favourite – strawberries pureed with milk, poured over a soft and jiggly panna cotta, and the whole thing drank with a straw. (It must be said: eating panna cotta with a straw is pure brilliance.)

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rosemary honey panna cotta with grapefruit jelly

rosemary honey & grapefruit panna cottarosemary honey & grapefruit panna cotta

This is day 3 of a series celebrating local Toronto businesses!  Recent events have put many local businesses in a difficult position and unfortunately, it’s not clear when this situation will come to an end. For ten days I’ll be posting recipes inspired by some of my favourite local businesses as my own way of celebrating what they bring to our communities. While we may not be able to visit our local bakeries, cafes and restaurants right now, this is a way of keeping them in mind, and a reminder to support them again once there is a chance.

I’ll be honest: L’arc en Ciel is pretty much the model of my (utterly) fantasy bakery business I mull over in the back of my mind some days – there’s a day-to-day base of gelato (though in my imagined bakery it’s ice cream), with some supplementary, seasonal and creative baked goods. They are a relatively new Toronto bakery, having opened over the summer. They did temporarily closed before we could try much, but the selection of tarts, gelato cakes, and pastries in the display case are absolutely up my alley in what I would like to try (and try to bake).

Back in late summer I had tried some of their gelato with a friend. This is based on the wonderful combination of gelato and sorbet flavours I had (which was also featured in one of the bakery’s gelato cakes) – a creamy savoury-sweet honey rosemary gelato and a biting acerbic grapefruit sorbet. I’ve replicated the flavours and creamy/bitter contrast here, in a panna cotta infused with rosemary and honey, and a tart grapefruit jelly.

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rosemary tarragon panna cotta with roasted plums

rosemary tarragon panna cotta with plums
rosemary tarragon panna cotta with plums

Sorry that my posting has been mildly vigorous and my time visiting around the blogosphere has been terribly minimal. The reason is, of course, busyness and general feeling-terribly-distractedness. This, while I’ve also been doing a fair amount of posting in order to try to finish up my queue of summer posts before winter sets in. Though I expect I can wait until the next summer.

rosemary tarragon panna cotta with plums
rosemary tarragon panna cotta with plums

I find that rosemary/tarragon = a very good combination. (Potential shipping names include roseagon and tarramary.) While the liquorice taste of the tarragon brightens, rosemary deepens, and the whole thing is very soft and not too assertive when infused into awful quantities of heavy cream.

These are quite rich. In the future I would use a higher proportion of milk–a bit of cream can go a long ways. Luckily, the roasted plums provide sorely needed acidity.

I didn’t end up with a nice smooth surface on the set panna cotta–there were spots of condensation that dripped down from a tent of plastic wrap, and a skin that formed and split (any advice on how to reduce these issues?). If these were being unmoulded it wouldn’t matter, however the tea cup presentation posed some issues. At least it could be covered up with those plums. Versatile plums!

rosemary tarragon panna cotta with plums

rosemary tarragon panna cotta with roasted plums

Makes 4 generous and rich servings. Panna cotta recipe slightly adapted from epicurious. To account for the intensity of the herbs, I used a few more sprigs tarragon than rosemary. You can give it a try after infusing and then if one herb needs to be boosted a bit more than the other, remove one set of sprigs and infuse for additional time with the other.

panna cotta

  • 220g heavy cream
  • 150g whole milk
  • 1 (4″) bushy sprig rosemary
  • 3 (4″) sprigs tarragon
  • 1 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin (1/2 packet)
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 20g granulated sugar

roasted plums

  • about 4 prune plums
  • olive oil
  • honey

panna cotta

Warm up the milk and cream in a saucepan until steaming. Add the herbs, cover and let steep 20 minutes.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and allow to sit and bloom. Heat for 10-15 seconds in the microwave to dissolve.

Remove the herbs from the cream, add the sugar, and bring the cream just to a boil. Combine with the gelatin, transfer to a liquid measuring cup for ease of pouring, and distribute into 4 tea cups or ramekins (a bit less than 1/2 c in each). If they are in tea cups, and thus are not being unmoulded, scoop any bubbles from the surface with a small spoon. Place the tea cups in a loaf pan to prevent tipping over, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least three hours to set.


For the plums, preheat the oven to 400F. Slice the plums in half and drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and a few drops of honey. Roast for around 20 minutes or until juicy and soft. The plums can be turned over gently partway through roasting. Serve plums and any roasting juice with the panna cotta.

Update notes: photographs updated Sept 2021.