One word for this incredible tropical dessert – amazing!! My Tahitian vanilla panna cotta with mango gelee and passion fruit captures all the flavors of Bora Bora and Tahiti in every single bite! I make the creamy vanilla panna cotta with Tahitian vanilla beans and a touch of coconut milk. The creamy dessert is then topped with sweet and tangy mango gelee and then a bit of passion fruit for even more tropical flavor! This recipe was inspired by our trip to Bora Bora to celebrate our 10-year anniversary! Make sure to check out my travel posts and resort review, too!
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Watch my YouTube video recipe for step-by-step instructions on how to make vanilla panna cotta! Want to receive new recipe emails in your inbox? Make sure to subscribe to my website and my YouTube channel and turn on notifications!
How to Make Vanilla Panna Cotta
Making panna cotta is super easy and it’s timeless dessert that’s perfect for any occasion! For my video recipe, I used Tahitian vanilla beans I brought back from our trip but regular vanilla beans will work as well. If you’re in a pinch you can even use a few teaspoons of good quality vanilla extract. To begin, I combine the liquids: whipping cream, whole milk and creamy coconut milk. Next, I add a bit of sugar and scrap out the vanilla seeds. To do this, simply cut the beans in half and use a knife to get all the little seeds out.
Once I have the liquids, sugar and vanilla combined, I bring the mixture up to a simmer over medium-low heat. You don’t want it to boil or scald! I also like to add the vanilla beans into the mixture to get every little bit of vanilla flavor! While the mixture is coming to a simmer, I prepare my gelatin mixture. Once the gelatin is melted, I add it into the panna cotta mixture. Do not let the gelatin cool! Cold gelatin will clump and ruin the panna cotta.
Preparing the Panna Cotta
This vanilla panna cotta looks so pretty in glass cups, parfait glasses, or even brandy sipping cups! You can also use disposable plastic cups if you’re bringing this dessert to a party. Once I my liquids have come up to simmer, I fill each cup using a measuring cup for a no-mess assembly. Fill the cups based on the cup size and how many servings you need. This recipe will make 9 to 10 small cups or 5 large servings.
The panna cotta needs to set in the refrigerator for a couple hours before adding the mango gelee. It doesn’t have to be completely set, just set enough so the mango puree doesn’t sink to the bottom.
Making Mango Gelee
This vanilla panna cotta is topped with an equally simple and easy mango gelee layer. Gelee is a fancy word for gelatin dessert – it’s made with mango puree, sugar, water, gelatin and lemon juice to preserve the color. I love to use fresh mangos for this dessert recipe but frozen mangos will also work well, just let them thaw out first.
To make the mango gelee, simply puree the mangos in a food processor until smooth, along with sugar and lemon juice. I usually add about ½ to ¾ cups of water to thin out the puree. Next, I add the gelatin and give it one last mix before pouring the mango puree over the panna cotta layer. Pour the puree gently over the top so it doesn’t break the panna cotta and sink to the bottom! And it’s back to the fridge for the dessert for at least 6 to 8 hours, or overnight, until it sets more firmly.
Passion Fruit Topping
To add even more flavor to my mango vanilla panna cotta, I add one of the most tropical fruits of all – passion fruit. This unique fruit adds so much incredible flavor and you only need a little bit for each dessert cup! I like to wait and add the passion fruit right before serving. To get the fruit pulp out of the fruit, simply cut each fruit open and scoop out the seeds using a small spoon.
I also like to add a touch of whipped cream on the top for even more creaminess. This is an optional step but it adds something a little extra to the top to garnish the dessert.
This delicious, tropical recipe was inspired by our trip to Bora Bora in November of 2020 to celebrate out 10 year wedding anniversary! Bora Bora has always been on our bucket list and it did not disappoint! Our experience was absolutely perfect and we loved the cuisine! One of the things I noticed was the vanilla – it was even used in savory dishes! Tahitian vanilla is prized for its incredible aroma and sweet flavor. I brought home 6 packages to make homemade vanilla extract and for baking. This panna cotta recipe captures the flavors of Tahiti so well with it’s sweet vanilla flavors and the fruity mango and passion fruit!
Enjoyed this easy and delicious recipe? Check out some of my other dessert recipes you’re sure to enjoy!
- Creamy Mango Cake – delicate and fluffy mango cake with sponge cake layers, mango puree and the best mango whipped cream frosting!
- Mango Mousse Cake – the best ever mousse cake with real mango flavor! The mousse is layered over sponge cake and topped with fruit jello!
- Coconut Key Lime Pie – if you love lime flavor, you’re going to love this zesty and creamy pie made with a graham cracker and coconut crust!
- Layered Pomegranate Mousse Cups – enjoy three layers of deliciousness – a creamy cheesecake layer, pomegranate mousse and pomegranate gelee!
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Need some supplies to make this recipe? You can get them here (Amazon affiliate links):
- Glass Dessert Cups – these simple glass cups are perfect for panna cotta!
- Disposable Dessert Cups – use these plastic disposable cups if you want to bring this dessert to a party.
- Brandy Sipping Glasses – if you want this panna cotta to look extra fancy, use these brandy glasses.
- CuisinArt Food Processor – I love this simple yet powerful food processer for pureeing foods and making sauces.
- Unflavored Gelatin – I used Knox unflavored gelatin powder for my recipe. You can also use these gelatin sheets (225 bloom strength) – 4 gelatin sheets are equivalent to 1 tablespoon gelatin powder.
Mango Vanilla Panna Cotta Recipe (video)
For Vanilla Panna Cotta:
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 ½ cups whipping cream
- ½ cup coconut cream/milk
- ½ cup white granulated sugar
- 2 vanilla beans
- 1 tbsp unflavored gelatin powder
- 2 tbsp water
For Mango Gelee:
- 2 medium mangos, about 2 cups fruit
- ¼ cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ to ¾ cup water
- 1 ½ tsp unflavored gelatin powder
- 2 tbsp water
- 5 to 6 passion fruits, for garnish
For Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup confectioner’ sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Prepare the vanilla panna cotta first. Pour the milk, cream and coconut milk into a medium sized saucepan and add the sugar. Using a paring knife, split each vanilla bean open lengthwise and scrap out the seeds with the flat edge of the knife. Add the seeds and the split vanilla beans into the milk liquids. Heat the milk and cream over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, until the liquids come up to a low simmer; whisk occasionally.
- While the mixture is heating, prepare the gelatin. Pour the 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of water into a small ramekin and stir in the gelatin. Microwave the gelatin in 10 second intervals for about 30 seconds, until it’s completely dissolved. Immediately, pour the hot gelatin into the liquids and stir. Do not allow the gelatin to cool, it will form clumps.
- Once the liquids come up to simmer, remove the pan from the heat. Pour the prepared panna cotta liquids into small glasses, parfait cups or brandy sipping glasses. Watch my video recipe to see how it’s done. This recipe will make approximately 9 small desserts or 4 to 5 larger servings. Place the cups onto a tray and transfer the vanilla panna cotta into the refrigerator to set for a couple hours.
- When the panna cotta has set up slightly, prepare the mango gelee. Do not add the gelee too early, otherwise it will sink to the bottom. Peel and slice the mangos, then place into a food processor along with the sugar. Pulse for a few minutes until the mango is smooth and finely pureed. Add the lemon juice and ½ cup water at first. Pulse again and add more water if needed; the consistency shouldn’t be too thick.
- Next, prepare the gelatin. Pour the 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of water into a small ramekin and stir in the gelatin. Microwave the gelatin in 10 second intervals for about 30 seconds, until it’s completely dissolved. Immediately, add the hot gelatin into the food processor and pulse with the mango. Do not allow the gelatin to cool, it will form clumps.
- Gently pour the mango puree over the panna cotta. Return the dessert cups back into the refrigerator to set for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight, until firmly set.
- When ready to serve, split each passion fruit in half using a serrated knife and scoop out the seeds into a small bowl using a small spoon. Add a spoonful of passion fruit seeds on top of each panna cotta.
- If desired, garnish the top with whipped cream: pour chilled heavy cream into a mixing bowl and add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Whisk on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream into a pastry bag with a star tip; I used a French star tip #4. Pipe small dollops of cream onto each serving.
- Keep the panna cotta refrigerated.