Pumpkin Chai Panna Cotta

plated pumpkin chai panna cotta 028I like black tea with milk and sugar. I like spiced tea and herbal tea with honey.  I usually Do Not Want spicy-milky tea. So, chai and I have never really been friends. You just need to know that up front.

Another thing you should know about me: I hit one of my best friends while playing Pictionary. For real. Because she was Sucking at the game. Yes, I am Quite Competitive. After the Hitting incident (which occurred much more recently than One might imagine, if One were being generous), I put myself in GameHab. Cold turkey. No games. Of any sort.  Except when I was teaching I had to be good and be a Good Example and exhibit Good Sportsmanship. Note: I am No Longer a teacher.


A couple of years ago, I started venturing out of GameHab with the patient help of my Beloved Husband. Who is a Fan of Risk and role playing games (not that kind) and card games and such.  We played a game called Zombies together.  Hardly life and death, but he played a card that made me have to lose my Chainsaw (a zombie fighter's best weapon), leaving me Defenseless. I pouted for hours.

I've grown since then, though. The last time we played, I was able to have fun. But I also Crushed Him.  I'm not sure how things would've gone had he been Crushing me.

And it's not just games in particular. It's competition in general.  I don't know what it is about it that gets me all Roid-Ragey. I'm not a Sports Fan. I don't play sports. If someone throws a ball at me, I'm much more likely to dodge or duck than to actually try and Catch It. I prefer to pick up objects that have Come to Rest rather than manhandle them away from their trajectory with any part of my Person.

plated pumpkin chai panna cotta 032So, still mostly in GameHab and shunning most forms of competition lest I become Tight Lipped and Nasty, I find myself rather surprised with myself for wanting to enter a contest.  And not a contest where you just click on a thing and maybe you win, either. That's not competition. It's just luck. No, I'm entering a contest that depends on creating an Awesome recipe. And there's a prize. That I want.

Not to intimidate you or anything, you understand. I'm just saying, is all.

Yes, the lovely folks at Bigelow Tea (specifically, the nice folks who run the Bigelow Tea fan page on fb) are having a recipe contest.  I found out about the contest from the Sweet&Simple page on facebook. That's @Michelle_Jaffee's business, and--lucky her--she is one of the judges. Yay, Michelle! The rules state that you can't just use some matcha powder or something in your recipe--the recipe must include brewed tea. And it can be almost anything--a dessert, breakfast, lunch, dinner or beverage. Yup, that about covers it.

And the prize? Tea, of course. A whole Boatload of tea.  Here's what their fb page has to say about the prize:

As the grand prize winner, you will be receiving a case of Bigelow Tea each month for one year which consists of 6 boxes of tea which is a total of 120 teabags per month of one flavor of your choosing. You will also be receiving one personalized Bigelow Tea Chest filled with tea (64 teabags in total).

That's a grand total of over 1500 tea bags. Yay, tea!

And guess what? I'm not feeling tight lipped and nasty at all at the prospect of Being Judged. I'm very, Very happy with my entry. I would love to win, but even if I don't, I'll be able to make this lovely dessert. And so will you. And so will the folks at Bigelow Tea who will secretly fall Hard for this pumpkin chai panna cotta and end up using it as the basis of an in-house bartering system. Psst. I've got three cups of PCPC. Can I have your pen?

So, it's definitely a Win-Win-Win-Win. If my entry is selected as a finalist, I will need your help, so try out this panna cotta and decide if it's worth your vote!

plated pumpkin chai panna cotta 008Oh, remember back when I said I am Not a Fan of chai? Well, I still don't think I want to just guzzle it all willy nilly, but I was drawn to Bigelow's Vanilla Chai tea when I went shopping for teas for this contest yesterday. I fully intended on doing a tea and crumpet bread pudding with black tea custard, but the cream and red box Spoke to Me.  And so I brought him home.  Along with English Breakfast and Earl Grey. I'm still thinking of trying some more ideas with the other teas, but I am Sold on this panna cotta. And here it is for you.

Pumpkin Chai Panna Cotta
Recipe type: Dessert (or Breakfast)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Creamy, dreamy, just-set-enough and spiced solely with the spices in the chai, this would be the perfect end to a spicy Indian meal. It's very rich, so portion accordingly. Unless you're me, in which case, just pour it in a fish bowl and call it a day.
What You Need
  • 1 ounce (2 Tablespoons) whole milk
  • 7 grams powdered gelatin (1 envelope)
  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) water
  • 5 oz (3/4 cup) whole milk, divided
  • 2 Bigelow Vanilla Chai tea bags
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (or your own pumpkin puree)
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon (trust me) demerara sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw)
  • scant ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream divided
What To Do
  1. Put 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) of milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle on the gelatin and stir. Let sit for about five minutes.
  2. In a small sauce pan, heat the water and 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of the milk together with the two tea bags. Bring to a rolling boil and then simmer for 4 minutes. (These are Bigelow's package directions for brewing a cup of chai using the "Authentic Method," although my chai was double-strength).
  3. Remove teabags and discard or compost. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Whisk in the bloomed gelatin, the rest of the milk (3 oz), the pumpkin, sugar, salt and one half of the whipping cream (1/2 cup).
  5. Taste and adjust the salt, if necessary.
  6. By this time, the chai mixture will have cooled down a bit. Strain it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, pushing down on the solids. Scrape the underside of the strainer to get all of the pumpkin-y goodness into the bowl.
  7. Whip the last ½ cup of cream to barely soft peaks.
  8. Whisk and fold into the chai mixture.
  9. Pour into decorative tea cups or small ramekins and chill until set, at least three hours. Garnish with a few gratings of fresh nutmeg.
Other Stuff to Know
Number of servings will vary according to portion size. The recipe makes about 30 ounces of panna cotta mixture. A three ounce serving is just about perfect, as this is fairly rich, so expect about ten servings from this recipe. Homemade gingersnaps or chocolate biscotti would be lovely as a crunchy accompaniment to the creamy panna cotta.

Enjoy it, and have a lovely day.

plated pumpkin chai panna cotta 037 And don't forget to share the last bite with someone you love!

PS The contest is open to everyone in the US and Canada, as long as they are over 21. If you'd like to enter, go check out the Contest Page.



  1. says

    haha….I think your pictionary incident would have been pretty funny to a bystander 😉 I think everyone’s competitive when playing games- it’s part of the fun! Your panna cotta looks delicious- love the flavour combination 😀 I’m not too much of a fan of chai either but the addition of vanilla chai to this panna cotta sounds very interesting!

    • says

      I think most people were just appalled! 😉 The vanilla in this chai tends to really mellow what I sometimes find to be harsh spicing. It’s a natural in a panna cotta, even without the pumpkin, I’d bet!

  2. says

    This looks delicious, Jenni 🙂 good luck in the contest! The only tea I ever drink is japanese green tea and recently discovered tulsi tea, I am obsessed with it… that last photo is just too sweet! xoxo

    • says

      Thanks, Yuri! Have never heard of tulsi tea–now I have a new thing to look up (and maybe love)! Lester is a cutie; kind of hard to be mad at him, even though he probably (definitely?) shouldn’t have been up on the table and all in the photo shoot! 😆

  3. says

    Tee hee. I get overly competetive at times myself. 🙂 In fact, Nick has forbidden me to participate in any more blog contests/competitions, because I get too upset when I don’t win. So I can relate. This dessert totally deserves to win, though – pumpkin and chai are two of my favorite things, and I can’t believe I’ve never thought of combining them!

  4. Jamie says

    Thank you for this recipe. My Thanksgiving menu is traveling the globe for inspiration — and the twist of chai with pumpkin is inspired. One question: I noted in another of your postings that panna cotta could be set, then frozen, in a silicon mold and later plated/thawed/served —does freezing impact the smoothness of the thawed panna cotta? Thank you!

    • says

      I’ve never had an issue with it doing weird stuff, @disqus_AGDjFk1wMP:disqus . We used to freeze them at the restaurant all the time. But, you can also make this 2 days in advance and keep them covered in the fridge. Just to be safe, change out your box of baking soda, and you should be fine.

      Have a wonderful globally inspired Thanksgiving, and I really hope that you enjoy this as part of your feast! 🙂

  5. says

    (not the same Jamie)… good lord, you HIT somebody playing Pictionary? OMG that made me laugh out loud! Remind me NOT to play Ruzzle against you! But gosh glad you entered this food contest because I am loving this amazing recipe and that flavor combination! And you fold in whipped cream? I am swooning! But this does sound like it makes enough for a dinner party so perfect for Thanksgiving… whoa so much better than just pumpkin pie! I love it!

    • says

      Thanks, friend! And yes, I would totally hit you playing Ruzzle. It’s a good thing you live in The France where I can’t reach! lol

      My secret for creamy, dreamy panna cotta is to stir it over an ice bath until it’s below 50F and staring to softly mound. And folding in whipped cream just adds to the fun. =)


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