Chai Latte Panna Cotta with Local Honey

Chai Latte Panna Cotta with Local Honey
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About This Recipe

The sweeping vineyards and rustic charm of Napa and Sonoma are world-renowned, but Northern California's wine country also boasts a rich tapestry of culinary delights. Nestled amongst the rows of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay grapes, there's a world of flavor waiting to be explored, from robust reds and crisp whites to the freshest local ingredients. And when it comes to dessert, few things harmonize better with the sensory notes of wine than the elegant panna cotta.

Today, I'm excited to share a twist on the classic: a Chai Latte Panna Cotta with Local Honey. This panna cotta dessert harmoniously blends the creamy, smooth texture of traditional Italian panna cotta with the aromatic spices of chai. The inclusion of local honey not only adds a touch of sweet elegance but also ties the dish to the very heart of Napa.

Every ingredient in this panna cotta recipe was chosen with intention. The inspiration was simple: how could I capture the essence of the California wine country in a dessert? The answer lay in melding the earthy flavors of chai tea, reminiscent of the aromatic blends from the East, with the rich creamy texture of panna cotta dessert, and then adding a drizzle of golden honey sourced straight from Napa's own apiaries. This honey panna cotta pays homage to our local beekeepers, whose dedication ensures a sweet touch in every dish.

But any dish, no matter how intricately designed, is elevated with the right wine. The Chai Latte Panna Cotta with Local Honey pairs exceptionally well with select wines that highlight its creaminess and spiced undertones. A dessert wine like a Late Harvest from Robert Mondavi Winery complements the sweetness, while the aromatic Riesling from Smith Madrone can accentuate the chai spices beautifully. And for the daring palate, consider pairing with a GSM blend, like that of Tablas Creek Vineyard. The spicy undertones of this red blend will dance with the chai flavors in an unexpected but delightful duet.

While the classic panna cotta dessert recipe hails from Italy, this chai tea panna cotta variant feels at home amidst the Californian vineyards. Whether you're in the heart of Napa, perusing the rustic lanes of Sonoma, or simply dreaming of the wine country from afar, this honey dessert invites you to savor the flavors of Northern California.

For those visiting or considering a trip to our beautiful wine country, this tea dessert is just a hint of what awaits you. Beyond vineyard tours and wine tasting sessions, immerse yourself in the local culture. Maybe visit an apiary and learn about the fascinating world of beekeeping. Attend local fairs, taste the freshest produce, and let each bite tell you a story. And when you do, remember to pair your meals with the finest wines our region has to offer.

In the heart of wine country, where the sun kisses the vines each morning and the crisp air is filled with promise, dishes like the Chai Latte Panna Cotta with Local Honey aren't just desserts—they're experiences. Each spoonful carries with it the spirit of Napa and Sonoma, a blend of tradition and innovation, much like the wines that have made this region famous.

As you enjoy this honey panna cotta, let it be a bridge between the Old World charm of Italian desserts and the New World vibrancy of Californian flavors. And let each sip of wine that accompanies it transport you to the rolling hills, sun-drenched vineyards, and the timeless allure of Northern California's wine country.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Local Honey

Deep in the heart of Napa, the buzzing of bees signifies more than just busy workers. Local honey, a natural sweetener that transcends traditional sugar, embodies the soul of the region. Rich in flavor, with undertones that can range from floral to woody, every drop captures the essence of the Californian terroir. When used in our honey panna cotta, it not only sweetens the dish but infuses it with a taste that's unmistakably Napa. Moreover, honey boasts numerous health benefits, including natural antioxidants, making it the perfect addition to elevate your panna cotta dessert.

How to Perfectly Set Your Panna Cotta

Achieving the ideal consistency in your chai tea panna cotta is crucial. Too runny, and you lose the dish's essence; too firm, and it becomes less palatable.

  1. Bloom Your Gelatin: Before mixing gelatin with any hot mixture, ensure you 'bloom' it. This involves sprinkling the gelatin powder over cold water, letting it sit for a few minutes. This softens the gelatin, ensuring a smoother mix with your hot liquids.
  2. Strain Your Mixture: Once you've combined all your ingredients, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. This removes any undissolved gelatin or chai residues, ensuring a silky-smooth panna cotta dessert.
  3. Chill Appropriately: Let your panna cotta set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Avoid placing it in the freezer as rapid cooling can affect the texture.


  1. Can I use a different sweetener instead of honey? Certainly! While local honey adds a unique Napa touch, you can substitute with maple syrup or agave nectar. Remember, each sweetener will slightly alter the panna cotta's flavor.
  2. How long can I store the panna cotta dessert in the refrigerator? Panna cotta is best enjoyed fresh but can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Ensure it's covered to prevent it from absorbing other refrigerator smells.
  3. Any suggestions for those with dairy allergies? Absolutely. You can replace the cream with full-fat coconut milk. The flavor will change slightly, but you'll achieve a creamy texture.
  4. Do I need any special tools to make panna cotta? While no special tools are mandatory, having a fine-mesh sieve helps ensure a smoother consistency by filtering out any residues.
  5. Can I infuse other tea flavors into the panna cotta? Certainly! While this recipe highlights chai, feel free to experiment with green tea, Earl Grey, or even floral teas like chamomile.

Tips for Success

  1. Flavor Infusion: To maximize the chai flavor, consider steeping the tea bags or leaves in the cream for an extended period, even beyond heating. This deepens the aromatic spices, elevating the panna cotta dessert.
  2. Serving Suggestions: When ready to serve, consider garnishing with a sprinkle of cinnamon or cardamom. Or for a crunch, sprinkle some crushed pistachios or almonds.
  3. Wine Pairing: As discussed, this panna cotta pairs beautifully with wines like Late Harvest or Riesling. Chill the wine slightly before serving to complement the cool panna cotta.

Incorporating these insights ensures your chai latte panna cotta with local honey doesn't just taste great but becomes a dish you'll be proud to present, capturing the essence of Napa's culinary wonder.

Recipe Overview

Chai Latte Panna Cotta with Local Honey
Lily Anderson
6 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 chai tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose chai tea
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon gelatin (about one packet)
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Local Napa Valley honey for drizzling (approximately 2 tablespoons)
  • A pinch of ground cinnamon for garnish (optional)
  • Edible flowers or fresh berries for garnish (optional)

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, whole milk, and sugar. Place it over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Once the mixture is warm, add the chai tea (either the tea bags or loose tea in a tea infuser) and allow it to steep for about 5-7 minutes on low heat. The longer you steep, the stronger the chai flavor.
  3. While the chai mixture is steeping, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small bowl and let it stand for about 5 minutes to soften.
  4. Remove the tea bags or infuser from the cream mixture. Add the softened gelatin and stir until it's entirely dissolved.
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  6. Pour the mixture into individual ramekins or glasses, leaving some space at the top for the honey drizzle.
  7. Let the panna cotta set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  8. Before serving, drizzle the local Napa Valley honey over each panna cotta. Garnish with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, edible flowers, or fresh berries if desired.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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