Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Seasonal Fruit & Amaretto Whipped Cream

Serves 4 to 6


  • • 1 cup whole milk
  • • ¼-oz packet unflavoured gelatin
  • • 2 cups heavy cream
  • • ½ cup honey
  • • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, pod and seeds reserved
  • • peel of 1 lemon
  • • 2 cups mixed blackberries, strawberries and blueberries or seasonal fruit of your choice
  • • 1 cup heavy cream
  • • 1 tbsp Amaretto liqueur
  • • 2 tsp honey
  • • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh mint, for garnish
  • • 8 thinly sliced fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
  • • 2 almond biscotti, finely crushed


  1. Pour the milk into a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it. Let the mixture sit, 3 to 5 minutes, allowing the gelatin to activate.
  2. Combine the cream, honey, vanilla seeds, vanilla pod and the lemon peel in a small pot and simmer over medium heat for 3 minutes. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pot with a spatula frequently to ensure the cream doesn’t scorch.
  3. Whisk in the gelatin mixture. Cook, stirring, until the gelatin has dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer into individual moulds, such as custard dishes or – for a fancy presentation – champagne flutes.
  4. Cool the custard to room temperature. Then cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the cream, Amaretto and honey on high until soft peaks form. In a small bowl, toss together the mint and cilantro.
  6. Serve each panna cotta with a heaping spoonful of fruit, a dollop of Amaretto whipped cream and a generous sprinkling of biscotti crumbs. Garnish each with mint and cilantro.

For the Kids

Shrink the panna cotta with some fun containers. I use small juice glasses. You can even make it more individual by adding a drop or two of food colouring to each serving when you pour the panna cotta into the glass. Mix it up a little, and every kid at the table can have his or her own colour.

Q&A …with Dean McDermott

Canadian Dean McDermott started in showbiz as an actor and appeared in hit shows like Due South and NCIS before becoming a reality-TV star with his wife, Tori Spelling. He’s gone on to forge a culinary career, first as host of Chopped Canada and now as author of his first cookbook, The Gourmet Dad. It features recipes he makes for Tori and their kids Jack, 16 (from Dean’s first marriage), Liam, 8, Stella, 7, Hattie, 3, and Finn, 2.

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