Black sesame and green tea panna cotta

Posted on May 15, 2014


The genesis of this black sesame and green tea panna cotta came about through a merging of 2 things; my idea of doing an ‘Asian’ flavoured panna cotta and my desire to make a visually dramatic 2 tone dessert. To keep with the Asian flavours, I’ve used soy milk instead of regular milk and I didn’t use any cream so this recipe will be good for those of you who are lactose intolerant. The omission of cream yields quite a light dessert and a softer set panna cotta. I’m so happy with its wobble factor that I made a gif! (Not the best gif, and I don’t know why my text only flashed on for one frame rate, I clearly need to develop better skills!)


This creation was to celebrate the birthday of my favourite person, who had specifically requested a ‘jelly’ as their birthday cake/dessert this year. A panna cotta is technically a milk based jelly, so this dessert totally fits the bill. As the birthday boy also asked for a low sugar option, the below recipe will yield a very subtly sweet dessert. The lower sugar content means the black sesame and green tea flavours will stand out more, particularly the slightly bitter notes in the green tea. If you prefer a sweeter panna cotta, I would suggest upping the sugar to 1/3 cup for the black sesame layer and up to 1/2 cup for the green tea layer.


While we’re on the topic of green tea…green tea powder can vary quite a bit in quality. It goes without saying that the better quality stuff will cost more and go a little further. I stock 2 varieties in my pantry, the expensive version (ie. ~$7 for 30g tin) and the cheaper option (~$10 for a 250g bag). They both serve different purposes; the more expensive version is good in baking when you need the green tea flavour to stand out above all the other ingredients or if you are after a very pure green tea taste. The cheaper green tea powder has a more muted flavour and you will generally require more of it to extract a fuller flavour. I tend to use the cheaper version for frappes/smoothies or when the green tea doesn’t need to overcome other flavours. Given the panna cotta recipe is only made from soy milk and there are no other competing flavours, I’ve just used the cheaper green tea powder in the recipe below. If you prefer to use a higher grade of green tea I would suggest reducing the recipe quantity by about half.

Now onto some comments about the soy milk I use. I prefer to use soy milk from Asian producers because I grew up with these types of soy milks and I believe they are made more traditionally, that is with whole soy beans. The soy beans are simply soaked in water, blended, cooked then strained. Plus the brands of soy milk I prefer tend to be from fairly reputable producers of other soy products (ie. tofu). The non-Asian soy milks can sometimes be made from soy protein rather than, or in addition to, whole soy beans. I can’t say with any credibility whether soy protein is any better or worse for you than whole soy beans, but I feel like the use of a whole food is better than using a derivative of one. Also, many of the non-Asian soy milks are not pure soy, they will contain items including other grains and/or corn syrup. A good reason to always check the ingredient list to make sure you are really getting what you think you’re paying for. For this reason, I always go for soy milks that are just made from whole soy beans and water.

One more thing before I get to the recipe. Gelatine comes in many forms, leaf, crystals and powdered. For this particular recipe I’ve used a fine powdered form of gelatine which can just be sprinkled and whisked directly into the hot liquid that I want to set. If you are using larger gelatine crystals (the ones you tend to get in sachets), you will need to pre-soak the gelatin in a bit of cold water before mixing it into the hot liquid. Gelatine leaves will be different once again and require pre-soaking before adding into the liquid.

RECIPE – Black sesame and green tea panna cotta (serves 8, moulds used have 125mL capacity)


  • 500mL plain sugarless soy milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame paste
  • 10g fine powdered gelatine
  • 500mL plain sugarless soy milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon green tea powder (refer to note above regarding different grades of green tea powder)
  • 10g fine powdered gelatine


Black sesame layer

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 500mL soy milk, 1/4 cup sugar and black sesame paste. Heat on low to medium until just at boiling point. Remove from heat.
  2. Gradually stir in 10g fine powdered gelatine into hot mixture.
  3. Divide mixture into 8, 125mL capacity dariole moulds. There should be enough mixture to half fill these dariole moulds. Rest moulds on a ~45º angle (for instance against the edge of a large muffin pans) so that the panna cotta set at an angle. Sorry it’s not very clear in the below picture, but it should give you a good idea of what I mean…IMG_8683
  4. Place dairole moulds into fridge for ~3-4 hours to set before making the green tea layer.

Green tea layer

  1. Combine 500mL soy milk, 1/4 cup sugar and green tea powder in a medium saucepan and whisk to combine well. Heat on low to medium until it just comes to the boil. Remove from heat.
  2. Gradually whisk in 10g fine powdered gelatine into hot mixture.  Allow mixture to cool for ~15-20 minutes (this is to ensure that the hot green tea mixture will not inadvertently melt the black sesame layer).
  3. Once mixture has cooled, give it one more whisk to ensure green tea powder hasn’t settled at the base of the pan. Pour mixture over the half filled dariole moulds.
  4. Allow to set in fridge for at least6 hours before unmoulding.
  5. To unmould, dip mould into a small bowl of warm water then run a knife along the edge. Invert mould on serving plate and give a slight tap to dislodge panna cotta. Serve immediately.


I’m happy to report that my black and green layered Asian inspired panna cotta went down very well with its intended recipient. He found it both aesthetically pleasing and tasty. Success! 🙂