Honey and thyme panna cotta with poached apricots

Photographer: Kurt
serves 6

I’m a panna cotta girl, I often find crème brulee a little rich, and while I am always happy with a bowl of ice-cream to finish a meal, sometimes an occasion calls for something a little more sophisticated. A couple of months back, we had most of our board of directors, along with some of the exec team here in Dunedin, ostensibly for a meeting, but really so we could cook them an amazing diner.

We wanted to focus on serving local, seasonal produce. The inspiration for this recipe was Al Brown’s series ‘Get Fresh’ where he travels the length of our wee nation, cooking up treats with the best of each region’s produce along the way. Thyme grows wild through much of Central Otago and along with apricots (and Pinot!) are some of the region’s iconic flavours.

The slightly savoury notes from the thyme offset the sweetness of the honey, while the apricots end up almost jammy after being cooked in the wine and saffron syrup, a great tangy contrast to the creaminess of the panna cotta.



Panna cotta
375ml cream
100ml milk
50g sugar
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp honey (I used pohutukawa)
2 gelatine leaves (gold grade)

1 ½ cups dry white wine
50g brown sugar
12 dried apricot halves
Pinch saffron


Panna Cotta
1. Heat cream, milk, sugar, thyme and honey in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Scald, but do not boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and honey. Remove from heat.
2. Bloom gelatine leaves in large bowl of cold water until soft. Squeeze out any excess water before adding to hot cream mixture. Stir until gelatine is dissolved.
3. Strain into a large bowl, discarding the thyme sprigs. Cool over an ice bath, stirring as mix cools. You may have to top up the ice bath with more ice half-way through to adequately cool the mix.
4. Once cream mixture starts sticking to the sides of the bowl, pour into six moulds and refrigerate until set.

1. Place apricot halves in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside to plump up for half an hour.
2. Combine wine and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
3. Drain apricot halves and add to the wine mixture along with saffron threads. Reduce heat to low and cook the apricots gently for 20 minutes, until tender.
4. Remove apricots from the saucepan and set aside. Turn up heat to medium and reduce to a syrupy consistency.
5. Pour syrup over apricots and allow to cool to room temp before serving.

To serve
1. Press gently on the top of the panna cotta with a clean finger to release from the edge of the mould. Upturn onto a plate and give a quick shake. If you still have difficulty turning the panna cotta out of the mould, briefly dip the underside into a bowl of hot water.
2. Place a couple of apricot halves onto each plate and spoon over a little syrup.