Dessert | Saffron Caramel Panna Cotta … and Saffron Extract {product review}

“I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets.”
Hamlin Garland

Saffron Caramel Panna CottaThere’s something about saffron, something exotic, like a caress, light and beautiful! A tiny bit of this beautiful spice catapults a seemingly good dish into an extraordinary one. Pairing it with a panna cotta I learnt that something quite ethereal happened! We have never sat so long over dessert …  S L O W L Y is how we ate it, not wanting it to finish. Thats just how sublime the Saffron Caramel Panna Cotta turned out to be.Saffron Caramel Panna CottaA good panna cotta is one of my favourite Italian desserts, possibly on top of my list. It’s been difficult to get the right consistency as whipping or heavy cream isn’t available here in India. I’ve made panna cotta several times in the past, but have never had much luck with turning them out perfectly, never a 100% satisfied feel!Saffron Caramel Panna CottaMust have been my lucky day as I experimented with a combination of low fat cream and gelatin and got the most amazing result. Amazing in taste and more importantly amazingly set! I set a few in goblets and the rest in metal molds with a saffron caramel {one in a ramekin too}. Saffron Caramel Panna CottaI had panna cotta on my mind ever since I received a mail from VAV Life Sciences, Mumbai inquiring if I was willing to review a ‘saffron extract‘ that their company produced. Saffron? Yes please! I’d never heard of saffron extract even though I use the normal dry saffron strands quite often … like here in Saffron, Pistachio & cardamom Kulfi {Indian frozen dessert}, Saffron Pistachio Yogurt Ice Cream, Saffron Rice Pudding, Hyderabadi Katchi Biryani, Yakhni Pulao etc.

Saffron Caramel Panna Cotta Natural Saffron Extract : Saffron is a culinary spice that comes from the stigma of the crocus sativus flowers. Saffron Extract is a specially formulated food grade extract of saffron that has been treated to enhance the natural flavour of saffron, without losing any of its natural properties. There is a reduction in the amount of saffron extract required for imparting the same flavour, as compared to dry saffron. While the saffron leaves quickly stale and dry out, saffron extract does not lose flavour and can be stored upto 24 months. Liquid extract is easier to use and standardized in food preparations compared to dry stamens and can be dosed precisely compared to natural saffron. {For further details you can get in touch with  Maitreyee Ghoshlogistics {@} vav {dot} in/ VAV Life Sciences }

With the tag of being the most expensive spice in the world, saffron is precious in many ways, especially its delicate flavour. Gentle and mild yet it elevates taste exotically perhaps like no other spice, saffron is associated with cuisines from India, Persia, Turkey, the Arab World, and even Europe. And I love the way it embraces both sweet and savory recipes so well.Saffron Caramel Panna CottaSaffron Caramel Panna CottaThis versatile spice goes a long way, and the saffron extract was a pleasant surprise. It imparted the characteristic subtle saffron flavour and colour to perfection. It was easier to use as its already in an extract form so the need to soak it for the obligatory 15 minutes prior use wasn’t necessary. The flavours were deep and pronounced, as was the colour. Saffron Caramel Panna CottaJust a knife tip amount {about 1/8tsp} was good enough to beautifully flavour the panna cotta and another bit to flavour and colour the caramel.Saffron Caramel Panna CottaA panna cotta caramel? That morning my path crossed with Raquels who writes a stunning food blog in Spanish, The Tragaldabas. She had the most beautiful panna cotta posted there, and I found my culinary path instantly!! She used Werthers candy in her caramel, and the very idea of a panna cotta with a caramel had me captivated.Saffron Caramel Panna CottaI went my own caramel way, like how my mother used to make it for caramel custard when we were kids. I remember waiting with bated breadth for the custard to be turned over {always in a green bowl which was reserved for caramel custard}. All three of us sisters would cheer when like magic the well set steamed pudding would ‘plop’ out with this shining crown on top!Saffron Caramel Panna CottaSaffron Caramel Panna Cotta extractThat was going to be the caramel for my panna cotta, one I decided to flavour with a dash of the saffron extract. Since saffron is such a gentle spice, I kept from letting the caramel turn characteristically dark. Bitter caramel in pudding is yum, but with saffron I turned the heat off the minute the sugar melted and coloured slightly.Saffron Caramel Panna CottaPerfect Spring dessert, the panna cotta came together like a beautiful dream, lilting, mesmerising, smooth, perfect, like a dream you didn’t want to wake up from. The textures teased the palette and we ate it in silence, everyone enjoying the elegance and caress of this cooked cream. {I made it again yesterday, on request, and to ensure that the magic was for real. It was!!}Saffron Caramel Panna Cotta

[print_this]Recipe: Saffron Caramel Panna Cotta your picture

Summary: Perfect Spring dessert, the panna cotta came together like a beautiful dream, lilting, mesmerising, smooth, perfect, like a dream you didn’t want to wake up from. The textures teased the palette and we ate it in silence, everyone enjoying the elegance and caress of this exquisite Italian dessert.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes plus setting time

  • Saffron caramel
  • 75gm granulated sugar
  • 1-2gm saffron extract {knife tip full}
  • Saffron Panna Cotta
  • 2tsp gelatin powder
  • 3 tbsp cold water
  • 1ltr low fat cream {18% fat}
  • 110gm vanilla sugar {or plain}
  • 1/8 tsp saffron extract {plus a teeny bit more for topping}
  • Pistachios, rose petals to garnish


  1. Saffron caramel
  2. Keep the serving molds/ramekins ready.
  3. Place sugar and 1/8 tsp of saffron extract in heavy bottom pan and melt the sugar to a light caramel. Do not let it burn or it will gte bitter. Swirl the pan often and take off the minute all the sugar has melted. It should be a bright orange colour.
  4. Immediately spoon about a heaping tsp into each mold/ramekin, swirling it about to distribute it.Continue for all the molds. Do this pretty fast as the caramel will harden rapidly. Just in case it hardens before you are  place the pan over very low heat to melt again.
  5. Saffron Panna Cotta
  6. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand for five minutes.
  7. Place the cream, saffron and sugar in a heavy bottom pan and gently bring to a simmer, but not a full boil. Stir often.
  8. Take off heat. Add 1-2 tbsp of this hot cream to the dissolved gelatin to loosen it further, and then pour the gelatin mix back into the hot cream through a sieve. Stir well.
  9. Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes, reserve about 100ml {optional}, and distribute the rest among your serving bowls/molds/ramekins/goblets.
  10. Leave to set for about 1-2 hours, then add a tbsp of the deeper saffron cream over the tops. Allow to set for another 6-8 hours/preferably overnight.
  11. Demold loosening the sides with a blunt knife and serve with a sprinkling of pistachio nuts and edible dried rose petals if you like.


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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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About me: I am a freelance food writer, recipe developer and photographer. Food is my passion - baking, cooking, developing recipes, making recipes healthier, using fresh seasonal produce and local products, keeping a check on my carbon footprint and being a responsible foodie! I enjoy food styling, food photography, recipe development and product reviews. I express this through my food photographs which I style and the recipes I blog. My strength lies in 'Doing Food From Scratch'; it must taste as good as it looks, and be healthy too. Baking in India, often my biggest challenge is the non-availability of baking ingredients, and this has now become a platform to get creative on. I enjoy cooking immensely as well.


  • 4 years ago

    Saffron caramel sounds absolutely wonderful – so exotic and elegant but deliciously indulgent all at once. Yum!
    thelittleloaf´s last blog post ..Kale, Chilli & Buckwheat Breakfast MuffinsMy Profile

  • 4 years ago

    A refined dessert! It looks and sounds amazing.



  • 4 years ago

    The pictures are simply extra ordinary. I am in a dessert mood, all of a sudden!
    indugetscooking´s last blog post ..Chili Paratta – Layered Bread Sautéed In A Spicy Masala PasteMy Profile

  • 4 years ago

    These look beautiful Deeba! And I can imagine how refreshing they’d be at the end of a meal.
    Sarah, Maison Cupcake´s last blog post ..Forever Nigella: Chocolate Cake from FeastMy Profile

  • 4 years ago

    Wat an elegant and super stunning panna cotta..
    Priya´s last blog post ..Pepper Babycorn & Paneer Stir-FryMy Profile

  • 4 years ago

    My jaw completely dropped when I saw the title, and then the photos, from this post! Oh my! I love panna cotta and the flavors in this sound incredible. I don’t have saffron extract (am intrigued!) but just brought back some Iranian saffron from Istanbul that’s burning a hole in my pantry :-)
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  • 4 years ago

    Your panna cotta is perfect, just creamy enough, and the addition of saffron is a great idea
    Tamara´s last blog post ..Macarons s kavom / Mocha macaronsMy Profile

  • 4 years ago

    Wow. what spectacular flavors!
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  • margret
    4 years ago

    Incredible, I am starving now 😉 Very nice pictures also well presented.
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  • Bhavana
    4 years ago

    This looks sooooo fabulous!! As I read the list of ingredients, I was mentally checking if they were already in my pantry since this dessert has to be tried out without delay. I have just one query. Could you please tell me by the quantity of saffron needed to substitute the extract? I am not sure if Saffron extract is available in my city.

    • 4 years ago

      Hi Bhavana. Thanks for stopping by. I think you could soak about a 1/4 tsp in 1-2 tbsp of warm milk, and about 5-6 strands for the caramel.

  • simran kamath
    4 years ago

    this is awesome!i just got back from my pantry…i don’t have enough hoo…fab. recipe… the fact that its so doable..beautiful..beautiful pics.

  • 4 years ago

    I am officially up for adoption…please…adopt me into your family. I want to dive into that..throw away my weight worry into the air and just gobble it down..yea-that’s what i wanna do right now. They look amazing…gotto try this out. Thanks for sharing.
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  • abha
    4 years ago

    Deeba , this looks yummy and the combination of ingredints has hit my family’s Indian taste buds.
    Can you just let me know do we get 18% fat cream in Delhi ( i mean is it Amul’s). And how do you sliver pistachios so perfectly.
    Happy Baking.

    • 4 years ago

      Hi Abha, yes 18% fat is Amul cream, the 1 ltr pack at room temperature.
      Slivered pistachios? I bought a small nut slicer from my Old Delhi shop ages ago and it has a simple adjustable blade that slices nuts {or ginger, garlic etc too} to whichever size you want. Haven’t been there for long, but can pick it up for you whenever I go next. let me know!

  • Rochelle Harrison
    4 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I really love dessert and this is one of my favorite.

  • 4 years ago

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  • Maryden25
    4 years ago

    It’s been long time now, since I’ve tried to do a Panna Cotta. I really have a hard time to do it perfectly! I’ve been practicing how to do it, but until now the outcome is kinda saggy. Maybe I should try again with this recipe, and I hope this time I can make it!

  • natasha
    4 years ago

    Hi Deeba,

    Am speechless…STUNNING photography and the dessert….like I said, am speechless!!!

  • Kazsandra
    4 years ago

    This looks like a great recipe and I hope I can make this perfectly too.. My husband actually wants this kind of recipe and I am really hoping he will like my own..

  • Both saffron and panna cotta fall under the exotic category… in my opinion, at least. I first got my hands on some saffron and absolutely loved the flavor… slightly floral, but with spicy (almost cinnamon/nutmeggy) notes. Yes, I just typed nutmeggy :-)

    This is marvelous and you totally nailed it!

  • 4 years ago

    Happy to follow your blog…. am defintely going to try this recipe… looks good and great pics! Please visit my blog
    Rachel´s last blog post ..Banana in RumMy Profile

  • I like how the caramel creates a syrup ..something like a caramel custard!! Saffron essence sounds interesting!!

  • 4 years ago

    Saffron and caramel are two of my favorite things! I’d never thought of combining them, and now I can’t wait to try it. Your panna cottas are beauties, and the extract sounds so interesting.
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  • Laura
    4 years ago

    Fabulous kind of dessert..It looks like perfect kind..Thank you for sharing the recipe..I cant wait to try it..
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  • 4 years ago

    Outstanding clicks! Makes me want to dive in for a bite…yummy! Will definitely try this :)
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  • 4 years ago

    Beautiful!!!! Wow! LOVE panna cotta and I am so making your recipe with lower fat cream! Perfect! And the saffron caramel is sooo beautiful! I have never made a sweet dessert with saffron and now I really must. Stunning pics, as always, my darling sistah! xo

  • 4 years ago

    I haven’t heard about a Saffron Extract before. Thanks for talking about it. What a fabulous dessert. Have a great day!
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  • 4 years ago

    This is a combination I would love to try Deeba.
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  • 4 years ago

    Amazing photos! What a gread idea for flavour combination. :) And glad to hear you were able to get the perfect set on your panna cotta. That can be the toughest thing sometimes to find that balance. Looks like you’ve nailed it. :)
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  • 4 years ago

    Tasty Appetite

  • Naigel
    4 years ago

    This dessert is absolutely great, I can’t wait to try this one…

  • 4 years ago

    I just made this. It was ridiculously easy…and turned out perfectly! It was also the first time I used gelatin sheets…they worked beautifully. I used 10% organic dairy cream, and no problems. I can’t wait to try out some variations. thanks!

  • Heidi19
    4 years ago

    Wow! what a perfect dessert. I’m so excited to try this. Thanks for sharing your recipe. Love it!

  • Wow this looks amazing. I love panna cotta, and the idea of saffron extract is just great!
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  • Gabrielle Plenert
    4 years ago

    How many does this serve?

  • 4 years ago

    Hey Deeba,

    This looks so delicious, the pics are amazing. I’m a big fan of saffron recipes, the flavor is so unique and rich, I just love it. Unfortunately I haven’t heard of Saffron extract in my neighborhood store, so guess I’d have to do with saffron strands only till I explore it more. I’m gonna try out this recipe coming weekend. Thanks for the share.
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  • 4 years ago

    Hola Deeba: Thank you for this decadent share! Made your panna cotta gem last night with these variations — toasted the saffron strands for five minutes, then turned into powder in a pestle. I also toasted the pistachios in a teaspoon of butter. Take a peek at the photo, if you’d like, and keep our sweet tooth delighted — Chef Marisol.

  • 4 years ago

    The solution lies in the saffron extract containing Satiereal which is a supplement that enables the individual to resist the urge of eating. Satiereal present in saffron extract has been recently featured on TV as a possibility of helping people who have a tendency of eating between meals.

    Saffron extract
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  • 3 years ago

    Looks lovely. Damn, I feel hungry now!

  • 3 years ago

    I love Saffron extract. It helped to reduce my appetite and I lost weight. I took the product as recommended and it worked for me.

  • 3 years ago

    Lovely recipe. I have just got a pack of Spanish saffron from a friend and was looking for recipes. This sounds sinful but easy to make. And ingredients I will get in India :)

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  • 12 months ago

    Wow, love the blog! I’ll be following your adventures from now on. Awesome pictures, too! :)
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  • 10 months ago

    The many uses of saffron extract are remarkable. The saffron recipes given here look absolutely amazing. I can\’t wait to try them. They should be both delicious and healthy for you too. That\’s a great combo. side effects

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