Autumn, Winter, Sweet

Fig-Leaf Panna Cotta

Panna cotta might feel like the kind of dessert that wouldn't translate well into a plant-based version, but trust me: this dish is a showstopper.

Its incredibly simple, requiring relatively little effort on your part: the most fiddly bit is remembering to start this dish well in advance, so you have time to infuse the cream and set your finished dessert. But once you've mastered the basic recipe, a whole world of possibilities for delicious variations opens up. This is also the ultimate get-ahead dessert, as it keeps well in the fridge for a good 5 to 7 days.

If you choose to use Whole Foods Vegeset, as I do here, be aware that this recipe calls for less than is stated on the packet. The reason for this is that you want your panna cotta to be just set, with a very good wobble – almost on the verge of collapse, but spoonable. Use too much setting agent, and you'll be left with a firm, rubbery texture instead.



3 fig leaves

750ml oat cream or other dairy-free alternative

½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped out

1 tsp vegan setting agent – I used Vegeset (see recipe notes)

120g caster sugar

To serve

4 fresh figs, quartered

2 tbsp sweet wine, masala, or apple juice (optional)

Vanilla bean paste

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 fig leaf, dried and broken up (optional)

Handful chopped pistachios (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/fan 150°C/Gas 3. Put the fig leaves on a baking tray and toast in the preheated oven for 4-5 mins. Add to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Put the cream in a small pan, heat to just below boiling point, then pour it over the toasted fig leaves. Cover and leave to infuse for 8 hours, or overnight.
  3. Once infused, strain the cream into a small pan, and add the vanilla seeds. Sprinkle over the setting agent, add the sugar, and bring to the boil.
  4. Take the pan off the heat, pour the cream into 4-6 small moulds or bowls, and leave to cool. Place in the fridge to set for at least 4-6 hours, or overnight.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare your figs. Preheat your oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4. Place the figs on a baking tray and drizzle with the sweet wine, if using, vanilla bean paste, and maple syrup.
  6. Roast for about 15 mins, until the figs are soft and their juices have been released.
  7. When you're ready to serve, dip the panna cotta moulds into boiling water for a couple of seconds to loosen them, and tip each one onto a plate.
  8. Serve the panna cotta with the roasted figs and their juices, and a sprinkle of dried fig leaves and chopped pistachio nuts, if you like.

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