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Cherry-Infused Panna Cotta With Toasted Coconut & Cherry-Toffee Shards

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

The delicate essence of cherries is on fine display in this sophisticated dessert. Understated and subtle, the luscious custard is a perfect base for the explosion of sweet, nutty texture on top.

A staple at many festive feasts in December, a pop of colour for décor or daiquiris, a sweet addition to savoury dishes and brilliant for baking, Cherry Time™ cherries are a firm favourite for thousands of South Africans who relish these little red wonders. These cherries are only available for a limited couple of months between November and December every year, with volumes peaking from mid-November until the end of December.

Cherry-Infused Panna Cotta With Toasted Coconut & Cherry-Toffee Shards

Saadiyah Hendricks (@sadiesbubbleofyum)


Cherry-infused panna cotta
  • 1 cup pitted and halved Cherry Time cherries

  • 3 cups cream 1 cup full-cream milk

  • ¾ cup caster sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla essence or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod

  • 1 tbsp gelatine dissolved in ⅓ cup boiling water

  • ¼ cup desiccated coconut

  • 200 g castor sugar

  • ¼ cup pitted and halved Cherry Time cherries

Garnish: cherries


Panna cotta
  1. Place all the ingredients except the gelatine and cherries in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil on medium heat.

  2. Remove from the heat, whisk in the dissolved gelatine and then the cherries, gently pounding the cherries for 2-3 minutes, allowing the fruit to infuse into the milk.

  3. Strain to remove cherry pieces and pour into individual dishes or moulds and allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge overnight to set.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C.

  2. Spread the coconut on a baking tray and place in the oven for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove and allow to cool while preparing the toffee.

  3. For the toffee, place the sugar in a saucepan on medium heat and allow to melt, stirring to distribute the heat evenly. Once the sugar has dissolved and turned amber, remove from the heat and stir in the cherries.

  4. Quickly pour the cherry toffee onto a silicone mat and spread it out using an offset spatula.

  5. Sprinkle the coconut over the toffee and allow to cool completely.

  6. Once cool, break the toffee into shards by tapping with a sharp knife. When ready to serve, decorate the panna cotta with toffee shards and fresh cherries.


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