This Cinnamon Panna Cotta Tart hosts a chocolate sweet tart crust and is filled with a creamy cinnamon panna cotta. Top it with fresh figs, pears, or persimmons and a drizzle of honey. A lightly sweet and refreshing dessert.
Posted: 10/22/2020; Updated: 10/20/2021
If you're looking for a dessert that packs a ton of flavor, but is light and delicate, you're right where you need to be. This Cinnamon Panna Cotta Tart is the perfect option for a more refined-feeling fall and winter dessert, in a simple creation process. It's unique and has contrasting textures, yet the cinnamon and chocolate combination make you feel like you've been eating all your life!
The tart is made of a chocolate sweet tart crust (pâté sucrée) that is similar to a cookie crust. The crust then gets brushed with melted semi sweet or dark chocolate to seal it. Finally, a lightly sweetened panna cotta base is steeped with cinnamon tea and poured into the tart shell to set and get creamy.
Top the tart with fresh slices figs, pears, or persimmon and a drizzle of honey. As you eat it, you move through the phases of soft, creamy, chewy and crunchy. It's refreshing, yet chocolatey and warm-spiced from the cinnamon. Truly an excitement to the taste buds!
What is Panna Cotta?
When my husband asked me what panna cotta was, I responded with "umm...it's like milk jello?" While technically I am correct there, a better way to describe it would be a sweet, flavored cream thickened with gelatin. It's as if jello and pudding had a baby.
This dessert originates from Italy and is a concoction that is molded and served on a plate or in a cup, but is also frequently enjoy in tart form. When served in a cup, you eat the creamy concoction with a spoon!
Why is it called panna cotta?
Panna cotta in Italian means "cooked cream" and is comprised of cream, sugar, and gelatin. While the name "panna cotta" may feel fancy, I urge you to try this Cinnamon Panna Cotta Tart. All you have to do is simmer a few ingredients on the stove to make the panna cotta! Easy peasy.
Common Panna Cotta Flavors
Because the base is cream, sugar and gelatin, you can get really creative with your flavors. Similar to this cinnamon version, earl grey or chamomile are also great tea options.
Fruit flavors include rhubarb, strawberry, peach, blueberry, mango, and passion fruit. You will typically see a layer of fruit jelly over the top for contrast and extra flavor, as well.
Some other fun flavors include rose, white chocolate, chocolate, coffee, and even Nutella!
Panna Cotta Ingredients
- Whole milk. Part of the base. Tea gets steeped in the milk and then the heavy whipping cream is added.
- Cinnamon tea. I use Bigelow Cinnamon Stick Black Tea, but use whatever type you can find! Chai would also be a good alternative.
- Heavy whipping cream. This is necessary for the correct texture.
- Granulated sugar. Only two tablespoons! Just to lightly sweeten the panna cotta.
- Unflavored gelatin. This is what makes the panna cotta set properly and cannot be omitted. I use Knox Unflavored Gelatin Powder.
Making the Cinnamon Panna Cotta Tart
To make this lovely tart, start by making the Chocolate Sweet Tart Crust. Follow the link for very detailed, step by step instructions.
Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (with the paddle attachment) and beat for one minute on medium speed to cream it together. Scrape the sides, then add the egg and mix.
Finally, add the mixture of flour and cocoa powder until it comes together. The recipe calls for dutch processed cocoa powder - this is needed for the correct depth of flavor, do not use natural cocoa.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, plated into a disc and place into the fridge for 2 hours to hydrate and firm. Once ready, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it's between ⅛" and ¼" thick. Transfer it to a tart pan with a removable bottom, press in, and trim.
Freeze for 15 minutes, dock all over with a fork, then add parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 325℉/163℃, remove the parchment and pie weights, and finish baking for another 10-15 minutes until the crust is completely dry and set. Set on a wire rack to cool completely.
See the Chocolate Sweet Tart Crust recipe for detailed instructions on this process. While the tart is baking, start the panna cotta by steeping the milk and tea.
Panna cotta layer
To make the panna cotta, bring the milk to a simmer on the stove (stir it a few times so you don't burn it on the bottom!), turn off the heat, then add the tea and steep for one hour. If using loose leaf tea, strain out the tea, otherwise, squeeze out the tea bags.
Pour the milk back into the pot, then add the heavy cream and sugar and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Allow the gelatin to sit and bloom for about 10 minutes. Then, turn the heat on to medium low and whisk consistently until the mixture reaches 120℉ on a digital thermometer.
Pour the mixture into a measuring cup or bowl and stir it every few minutes to release the steam and cool it down. Use the digital thermometer to check on the temperature. Once it reaches just below 100℉, it's ready to be poured into the prepared tart shell.
While the milk and tea steep, you'll need to add a thin chocolate coating to the cooled tart shell. This layer helps to prevent the tart shell from becoming soggy from the panna cotta before it sets.
The layer should be thick enough that is covers most of the shell, but also thin enough that there are some bare spaces for the panna cotta to adhere to. Finding a good mix here is what will prevent the panna cotta from slipping off of the shell as you eat it.
To do this, melt the chopped chocolate in 10 second increments in the microwave, stirring each time, until completely melted. Use a pastry brush to spread the chocolate over the bottom and sides of the tart shell. Place in the freezer for about 5 minutes to set.
- Add the tart shell to a cookie sheet, then carefully fill the tart with the cinnamon panna cotta. Do not let it slosh over the sides or else you'll have a soggy tart.
- I actually place my sheet and shell in the fridge and fill it in the fridge so I don't even have to move it! This is a pour at your own risk situation, though...
- Allow the tart to set for 8 hours or overnight.
- Layer with slices of figs, pears, persimmons, or other soft fruit. While the pictures show a fancy version, I actually like to eat mine with heaping piles of thinly sliced fruit, especially figs!
- Finally, give it a nice drizzle of honey.
- Best enjoyed within 24 hours. The panna cotta will begin to "seep" after that, releasing some water/liquid.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. There is no gluten or thickening agent in panna cotta. The texture comes from the use of gelatin, which means it is not vegan.
YES! This is actually preferred, as giving it a solid amount of time to set up is best.
More Tart Recipes
- Blueberry White Chocolate Ganache Tart
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart
- Peppermint Patty Tartlets
- Chocolate Espresso Tart
Cinnamon Panna Cotta Tart
- 8 or 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom
- Stand mixer with paddle and whisk attachment (or hand mixer)
- Rolling Pin
- Pie weights, or dried rice/beans
- Digital thermometer
Chocolate Sweet Tart Crust
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature (85g)
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar 67g
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 165g
- 2 tablespoons dutch processed cocoa powder 12g
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chopped and melted (1.5oz)
Cinnamon Panna Cotta
- 1 cup whole milk 250 ml
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon tea or 2 tea bags
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream 188 ml
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 30g
- 1 ¼ teaspoon powdered unflavored gelatin 5g
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Sliced figs, pears, persimmons, or your soft fruit of choice
Chocolate Tart Shell
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and salt on medium speed until smooth.
- Add the egg, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the flour and cocoa powder and mix on low until just combined.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and flatten into a 1-inch thick disc. Place in the fridge to firm up for 2 hours minimum. When ready, allow the dough to come to temperature for 15 minutes before rolling it out.
- Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll the dough out, turning a quarter turn every few rolls, until the dough is about ⅛” thick and is 2 inches wider than your tart pan. Throw a bit more flour anywhere your dough may be sticking.
- Transfer the dough to the tart pan and carefully press the dough into the bottom and sides of the tart pan, then trim off the excess so it’s flush with the top of the tart pan. Use the scraps to patch any weak spots or holes in your dough. Place the tart in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 325℉/163℃ while the tart freezes.
- Remove the dough from the freezer and dock the bottom of the tart with a fork multiple times. Line the shell with parchment paper and fill completely with pie weights (or dried beans/rice).
- Bake for 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and parchment, and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes. When done, the middle of the tart should not look moist or raw. Remove the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once the tart shell is cool, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave in 10 second increments, stirring in between each round until completely smooth and melted.
- Using a pastry brush, spread the melted chocolate into a thin, even layer on the bottom and halfway up the sides of the tart. Only use the amount of chocolate you need to do a thin even layer, anything leftover should be discarded (into your mouth, preferably). Place the tart in the freezer for about 5 minutes to firm up the chocolate.
Cinnamon Panna Cotta
- While the tart is in the oven, begin to make the panna cotta. Bring the milk to a low simmer (careful not to scotch it!) turn off the heat, add the tea, and steep for one hour.
- Once steeped, sqeeze out the tea bags (or strain if using loose leaf tea). Return to the same pot, and add the heavy cream and sugar, then sprinkle the gelatin over the top and allow it to sit and bloom for 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat to medium low, and whisk until your mixture reaches 120℉ on a digital thermometer.
- Pour (and strain if needed) into a large measuring cup and stir in the vanilla. Allow it to cool (stirring every few minutes) until it’s just below 100℉.
- Place the tart shell on a baking sheet and carefully pour the milk into the shell. Place it in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight to set.
- Right before serving, slice your choice of soft fruit (figs, pears and persimmons are great) and drizzle with honey. Add it to the tart, or cut and serve and individually add fruit and honey.
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