A flavour combination that feels like a warm summer day as a dessert is what this blueberry lavender panna cotta is all about. Delicately flavoured with fresh blueberries and dried lavender flowers, and naturally lilac-coloured with dried bilberry powder. A beautiful and elegant no-bake dessert.
This delicious blueberry lavender panna cotta is made using fresh blueberries as well as dried bilberry powder. The addition of dried bilberries enhances the blueberry flavour while also naturally giving this panna cotta its lovely lavender colour.
Blueberry vs bilberry
Despite belonging to the same family, blueberries and bilberries are slightly different. Blueberries are from North America, while bilberries are found in Europe. While these berries look and taste pretty similar – to the point that even the European bilberry is often called a blueberry – they do present one significant difference and that is the colour of the pulp. Common blueberries have a white/light green flesh, while bilberries have a dark purple pulp.
Bilberries stain your tongue much more than blueberries do. Not only your tongue: adding bilberries to other foods, like smoothies, will stain them purple. Blueberries do not deliver the same level of staining. This is why I have decided to add dried bilberry powder to my blueberry panna cotta. Blueberries alone were delivering a very pale shade of purple, almost grey. And I wanted a lavender shade of purple since we also have lavender in this panna cotta.
Bilberries: a Nordic superfood
Bilberries are considered a superfood. Having to survive in quite a harsh climate, Nordic berries are known to be packed with vitamins, antioxidants and other health benefits. Bilberries in particular help with circulation and blood vessel health, as well as reducing inflammation and improving vision. Because of this, you can find them sold as dietary supplements. If you don’t have access to fresh or frozen bilberries, you can buy them powdered to add to your yoghurt or smoothie. Or to your panna cotta, as we did here.
If you don’t have access to dried bilberry powder that’s no biggie. You can sharpen the purple colour with one drop of food colouring, or just forget about it and have your panna cotta as it is. If you have access to bilberries, go ahead and use those! No need for extra powders or food colouring gel then! I have made this blueberry lavender panna cotta using bilberries I had harvested here in the forest and I nailed the same colour you see in these pictures by just using the fruits.
If you stumble upon dried bilberry powder I would recommend giving it a try. It can be a cool way to boost your smoothie when berries are not in season. Plus it’s a natural food colouring, but it obviously also delivers the berry flavour together with the colour. It can be useful to have if you want to make this lavender blueberry panna cotta again and again.
How to make blueberry lavender panna cotta
The procedure to make lavender blueberry panna cotta is pretty simple, like a normal panna cotta. You just need to infuse the cream with the flavours of the blueberries and the lavender flowers, and blend to properly extract all the juice from the berries. This recipe yields 4 portions, keep reading for the instructions and find the detailed ingredient list and directions in the recipe card below.
Combine the blueberries, lavender flowers, cream and sugar in a pot and heat on medium heat stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for about 5 minutes. The sugar will dissolve and the blueberries will start getting softer and cook. Stir in the bilberry powder, if using it. Just before it reaches boiling temperature, remove the mixture from the heat and blend with a hand blender. This will help to extract the full flavour from both the fruits and the lavender flowers that will have rehydrated in the warm cream. Pour this mixture through a sieve and discard the fruit skins and lavender flowers.
Warm up the milk and stir in drained softened gelatin that had been put in cold water to bloom. Add gelatin and milk mixture to blueberry mixture and stir. Divide between moulds and let set in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. To serve my blueberry lavender panna cotta I have flipped it onto serving plates and added white chocolate shavings on top. I really love the white chocolate blueberry combo.
Cooking with lavender
Lavender is a beautiful plant, with a scent that everybody can recognise. Its essential oil has calming properties and even the colour of the lavender flowers is very soothing. Largely used to scent toiletries and cleaning products, as well as air fresheners, laveder is also a lovely ingredient to use in the kitchen. Here are some lavender recipes for you to try:
- Lemon lavender loaf cake: a delightful light cake that will make you feel like you’re in Provence.
- Baked rainbow trout with lavender: oven-baked fish flavoured with various herbs including lavender flowers and lavender salt.
Have you used lavender in your cooking before? Let me know in the comments! I would love to learn about your experience cooking with lavender.
Blueberry lavender panna cotta
A lovely panna cotta flavoured with lavender and blueberries and topped with white chocolate shavings.
- 400 ml heavy cream
- 80 ml full fat milk
- 90 g sugar
- 7 g gelatin (4 sheets)
- 1 tsp dried lavender flowers
- 100 g fresh blueberries
- 1 tsp dried bilberry powder (optional)
- 20 g white chocolate shavings
Soak the gelatin in cold water and let it bloom. In a saucepan combine cream, sugar, lavender flowers and blueberries and set on medium heat. Cook the mixture for 4-5 minutes stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the dried bilberry powder. As the mixture heats, the blueberries will start to cook and break; keep stirring for a couple more minutes. Remove from the heat just before it reaches boiling temperature. With a hand blender give the mixture a quick blend to fully smash the blueberries and extract their flavour.
Pour the mixture through a sieve and discard lavender flowers and blueberry skins. Warm the milk and stir in the drained softened gelatin. Stir gelatin mixture into blueberry mixture. Divide final mixture between moulds and let set in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.
Serve the panna cotta cold, with white chocolate shavings on top.
The dried bilberry powder is not a mandatory ingredient, but it helps to naturally enhance the purple colour of the panna cotta. The North American variety of blueberry has a light green flesh, as opposed to the dark purple pulp of European bilberries. Panna cotta made with blueberries may result quite pale in colour, as compared to the same recipe made with bilberries. Instead of adding artificial colouring, the powder of dried bilberries is added in this recipe.