cream cheese panna cottaHere it is: reveal day. If you didn’t realize it’s reveal day, you probably didn’t know I made a chocolate sable tart shell a couple of days ago and then challenged folks to make their own and fill it with…whatever they wanted. This is how I chose to fill mine.

Cream Cheese Panna Cotta

Since I was working with such a dark chocolate shell, I wanted to be sure the filling contrasted nicely. The butterscotch color of peanut butter or, well…butterscotch…would have worked nicely here. But my brain was stuck on making a black and white tart.

I saw that Roxana from Roxana’s Home Baking shared a splendid pumpkin pie panna cotta tart in a rectangular shell a few days ago, and something clicked. Why hadn’t I ever thought to serve panna cotta in a tart shell? I don’t know, but I decided that my tart shell-less panna cotta days would soon be over. After all, cool-creamy against crunchy-crumbly equals delicious.

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cream cheese panna cottaI’ve made panna cotta with cream, buttermilk, creme fraiche and sour cream before, but I’d never ventured into the world of cream cheese panna cotta. But that’s what I wanted, so I asked The Google if it had heard of such a thing. Let me tell you, Google didn’t have a lot of information on it, but I did find a fantastic lesson about making panna cotta in general, and the author offered six variations, one of which was cream cheese. Here’s that lesson from chef, culinary instructor and cookbook author Susan S. Bradley from The Luna Cafe in 2011: Mastering Panna Cotta — with Six Variations. If you love panna cotta and want to know how to make it well, read this post.

You will see that I used her measurements exactly, although I did add salt to my base and simplified the procedure. I considered adding some vanilla extract, but I wanted to keep my filling as white as possible. Plus, I love the flavor of cream cheese and wanted it to shine. I thought it was perfect. If you choose to make cream cheese panna cotta, either for your tart filling or just to put in ramekins and serve with some coulis or something, you can certainly flavor yours however you want. If you read Susan’s article, she shares quite a number of ingredients that you can steep into the base, so you aren’t limited just to extracts.

cream cheese panna cottaStuff that Went Kind of Wrong

I thought it would be great to add a layer of strawberry jam to my tart shell before adding the panna cotta. In hindsight, this was not such a great idea. Not only did the jam end up getting runny, it also kept the filling from adhering to the bottom of the tart shell. Hmmph. If you want to add a fruity note, I suggest you either serve a sauce alongside or put the fruity layer on top of the panna cotta layer once it has set up.

The tart dough, while delicious and lovely, decided to stick a bit in the bottom of my pan. And it also decided to stick a bit to reader Maggie’s pan when she tried to take off the tart ring. Not so good when trying to slice and serve. So, to save you the horror (and as I said to Maggie), I suggest you bake in a non-stick two-piece tart pan, spray your regular tart pan with Pam or something similar or cut a disc of either parchment or nonstick foil to fit in the bottom of the pan. If you’re still concerned about sticking, rest the tart on a hot towel for a minute or so to melt any butter that might be acting as glue. Then, shimmy a long, thin spatula under the tart, between the disc and the shell, to make sure nothing is sticking.

Keep in mind that your tart will still be fabulous, but if you want it to cut cleanly, sticking is No Bueno.

On the bright side, the tart shell slices beautifully without getting all weird or crumbly.

Here’s how I made my cream cheese panna cotta tart filling, minus the dumb jam layer.cream cheese panna cotta

cream cheese panna cotta

Cream Cheese Panna Cotta

Jennifer Field
The amount here made enough filling to fill my 9" tart shell almost to the top. If you are using it as a filling for a 10" tart, increase all the amounts by 25%. You may end up with a bit more than you need, but better that than not enough. Besides, you can always put the extra in a dish and eat it by itself.
5 from 3 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 2 oz whole milk
  • 1 packet gelatin (2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • 6 oz whole milk
  • 6 oz cream cheese , cut into small pieces and softened
  • 3.5 oz granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt


  • Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the 2 oz of cold milk. Stir and set aside for the gelatin to bloom.
  • Put all the rest of the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring slowly, until the mixture is about 150F. If you're using a whisk, whisk very slowly because you don't want a bunch of bubbles in your panna cotta mixture.
  • Remove from heat and let cool to about 140F, then thoroughly stir in the bloomed gelatin until it has all melted.
  • Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher or liquid measure to make pouring easier.
  • Fill individual tart shells, a large tart shell or pour into ramekins. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours, then cover and chill until ready to serve.

Did You Make Any Changes?


To make the skinny, skinny lines across my tart, I melted together equal parts heavy cream and chocolate chips along with a splash of corn syrup and a pinch of salt. I put it in a zip top bag and poked a hole in one corner with a toothpick. I did practice how fast I'd have to make the lines to keep them from being squiggly. I just piped onto the counter.
Did you make this recipe?Please tell us what you loved!

And there you have it. I am so happy to know that cream cheese panna cotta is a thing, because I love cream cheese. And I love panna cotta. And it’s very, very easy to make.

cream cheese panna cotta

So, have you accepted my tart challenge? Will you make the chocolate sable tart shell and fill it with deliciousness? Whether you fill it with what I made or you opt to go your own way, I really would love to see, or at least hear about, what you make. Share here in the comments or over on the facebook page. If you’re on instagram, tag me. I’m @onlinepastrychef over there.

Thanks so much for spending some time with me today. I hope that news of things going less than perfectly is helpful to you. The tart in the photo is the very tart that had…issues, so please don’t think all is lost if you have a bit of sticking or a bit of leaky jam.

Take care, and have a lovely day.

Update: Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic made the chocolate sable tart shell and filled it with a miraculous banana cream pie filling, topping it with barely sweetened whipped cream and crumbled toffee. Way to meet and exceed the challenge, friend!



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  1. Challenge Accepted! But, sad to report, Challenge Failed.

    Not only did my pastry shell stick to the wall of the tart ring, but when time came to slice it, it crumbled like Jericho.

    I think I’ve sussed out the problem(s) though, Jenni, and none of the blame lies with your recipe. First, when I was building this dough, it was soooo beautiful and silky before I put the cream in that I just dribbled in a drop or two of the cream. This, I think, was a mistake. I believe a lack of moisture contributed to the Crumble Factor.

    Second, my 2-piece tart rings are all old-fashioned tinned steel and are quite old. I think their areas of worn finish may be causing release problems. Oddly, unlike your problem with the shell sticking to the tart base, mine slid easily off its base but stuck to the walls. In the future I’m going to give my tart rings a good spray-down before using them. (And at some point replace them.)

    And as if the pastry shell problems weren’t enough, I ruined my filling by overcooking a caramel I was going to use as a layer over a ganache layer, and it was way too stiff. So, when you went to cut this tart, the knife pressure required to cut through the caramel caused my crumbly shell to collapse even further.

    It Was Not Pretty.

    But, despite all my screwups, your chocolate sable pastry was utterly delicious, and no one minded having to eat it in a bowl with spoons. Hey, all our errors are part of our education, right?

    1. Oh no! I hate it when there’s a cascade effect of Horror! What a bummer, Maggie, and I’m so sad for you. I’m glad the flavor was good and that your guests were all good sports, though.

      I think I ended up having to use about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cream, but don’t hold me to that. It was pretty much the consistency of Play-Doh. Maybe we need to trade–your tart bottoms to me and my tart rings to you! lol

      1. I redeemed myself with them today: made a giant 12″ version of Sara Moulton’s rose-blossom French apple tart, and it was gorgeous. Thought about you when I was making the dough — must get you to weigh in some time on when it is and isn’t appropriate to use fraisage in making a pastry shell. Maybe after the holiday frenzy is over. Right now I have to go wade through your Holiday Desert-O-Rama post.

      2. You know, I was never formally trained in frissage. The only reason I even know about it is that I saw someone do it on a cooking show probably twenty years or so ago. I have never used the method with pastry dough but I have with bread dough (it worked really well for the bread dough, by the way). I would think that it would be appropriate for a short crust but not for one that is flaky. So, maybe the rule should be: for tarts, not pie.

        Now I want to see that tart! If you’re a fan on the facebook page, please post a photo and I’ll share with everyone. =)

  2. 5 stars
    Hi there, Jenni. Thank you for the referral, much appreciated! 🙂 Love the idea you present here. Never thought of using a panna cotta base as a filling for a pie. What a great idea. You tart looks fabulous. Best…Susan

    1. I love your tip of tempering the gelatin mixture to chill it before adding it to the rest of the base. So great to know that it keeps the gelatin from setting more and more the longer it sits–magic! I was very happy to come across your article, Susan!

  3. I do accept your challenge, although I might not get to it in a timely manner. I’m thinking I might bake a clementine almond cake – no flour – in it. Orange and chocolate is a fairly classic combination. Of course, I’d have to serve with unsweetened whipped cream. That’s a given at our house.

    I love your panna cotta filling, Jenni. Panna cotta is one of my favorite desserts because it’s creamy and not too sweet.

    1. Sounds delicious no matter when you get to it, Stacy! I love chocolate and orange too. So good!

      The 1/2 cup of sugar in this panna cotta is just enough, and the shell is not very sweet at all. Really nice combo. 🙂

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