The Seasoned Traveler

Recipes and remedies using herbs, spices, and other natural ingredients from the world's pantry

Lemon & Cardamom Panna Cotta Parfaits



The sight of crocuses and daffodils sprouting up always cheers me, not only because they signal the arrival of spring, but also because they seem to defy all odds. How something so delicate pushes through the hard earth is beyond me. Yet every year it happens, those bright petals bursting forth without any trace of winter weariness. A triumph of the softer side.

Soft, bright, and cheery is the spirit of this panna cotta too. A creamy and rich bottom layer infused with cardamom balances a burst of zesty lemon curd on top. If you haven’t tried making panna cotta before, it’s one of the easiest and yet most elegant of desserts; just allow for a few hours to set, then spoon over the lemon curd and serve.

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope signs of spring are sprouting in your neighborhood too. And please drop by the Fiesta Friday blog party for more delicious and inspiring treats.

Lemon & Cardamom Panna Cotta Parfaits

Makes 6 parfaits

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 4 tsp powdered gelatin
  • finely crushed seeds of 6 cardamom pods (pods removed)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbs. lemon curd  (recipe follows)


  1. On the morning or night before you’d like to serve, make the panna cotta: Pour part of the milk into a saucepan and add the gelatin; let it sit until the gelatin softens and swells, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining milk, the cardamom, and the sugar and set the saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar and gelatin are completely dissolved. Do not let the liquid boil. Remove from the heat and gently stir in the cream and vanilla until blended. Divide the mixture evenly among 6 glasses (or bowls), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.
  2. When the panna cotta is set, spoon over and smooth out 1 Tbs. of slightly warm lemon curd on the tops of each one, cover, and refrigerate again to chill, at least 20 minutes.


Lemon Curd

Note: this will make about 2 cups of lemon curd — more than you’ll need for the parfaits. You can store it in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy on toast, scones, waffles, ice cream, or yogurt.

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened) (2 ounces = 57 grams)
  • 3 fluid ounces (use a liquid measuring cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 to 2 1/2 large lemons)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (finely grated) (4 grams)
  1. Mise-en-place: Weigh the butter and set aside; zest and juice the lemons and set aside separately.
  2. In a nonreactive medium saucepan, use a wooden spoon to combine the egg yolks and sugar, mixing well. Then add the softened butter and mix well again. Add the juice and salt and mix again (with the addition of the juice, it will separate a bit, but a good stirring of the butter beforehand helps).
  3. Set a spouted bowl with a sieve over it close to the stovetop area.
  4. Set the saucepan over low heat and be ready to tend it, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When mixture is incorporated well again, slowly turn up the heat closer to medium. Keep stirring until it thickens like hollandaise sauce. A little steaming and bubbling on the sides are okay as long as you keep stirring vigilantly and lift off the heat when it looks like it might actually boil. You will feel the bottom center of the pan thickening the most as you stir. Keep letting it thicken until it is no longer translucent but slightly opaque and coats the spoon a nice golden-orange. When it thickens enough to coat the spoon (about 7 minutes), pour it through the sieve into the bowl you set aside. Add the zest.
  5. Pour into a canning jar or other container and let sit to cool. Note: If it cools too much to spread on top of the parfaits, you can microwave it for 30 seconds at a time until it’s spreadable. You can cover and store any leftover lemon curd in the fridge for a couple weeks.

Author: Laura Haugen

Writer, Traveler, Foodie

50 thoughts on “Lemon & Cardamom Panna Cotta Parfaits

  1. This looks stunning Laura! And I just caught my first glimpse of some daffodils sprouting this morning! I love this time of year xxx

  2. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #5 | The Novice Gardener

  3. I can’t wait to watch the sprouting of daffodils… here ( Montreal) is still cold, really really cold. I love panna cotta, any kind of, your recipe with lemon curd and cardamom is even better!

    • Yes, I feel for you in the colder climate. I grew up in Maine, which is similar in climate, I think, to Montreal. It was winter, winter, winter, then summer and a flash of brilliant fall. Okay, a few days/weeks of spring, maybe. Or mud season? I’m happy to have a more substantial spring season here in Berlin 🙂 Hope the daffodils come soon for you! Thanks for your kind comments too!

  4. Hi Laura, what a beautiful panna cotta–I would be afraid to break into that as it is so perfectly arranged! I bet the cardamom really pops in this dessert.

  5. Such a bright, beautiful dessert! I never used cardamom in my dessert before, although I have it in my cupboard for cooking curry or something. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hello, Weebirdie (may I call you that?!), and thanks. I hope you try cardamom in desserts — especially combined with cream, it’s one of my absolute favorite flavors. I have a cardamom ice cream (with ginger drizzle) recipe here, and I also love just sprinkling some in whipped cream. It’s also good sprinkled into your coffee maker (along with the ground coffee inside the filter) for a slightly peppery but sweet kick in your coffee Middle-Eastern style! Scandinavians use cardamom + lemon a lot, so I wanted to try that combination here, and it was a nice vibrant flavor. Thanks so much for stopping by here and have a great weekend 🙂

  6. What a pretty looking panna cotta! Im sure the combination of panna cotta with the lemon curd will be lovely. 🙂

  7. Does this ever look good – I have not had a panna cotta in awhile – I need to try your version 🙂

  8. Those beautiful parfait’s look the the very essence of spring. I can’t wait to see my first daffodil, if only the snow would melt!

    • I hope you get some signs of spring soon. Last year we got snow in April here in Berlin; had to hunt for Easter eggs in the snow – not my idea of Easter! So I am half-bracing for another hit of snow, but I’m sure enjoying some warmth & springlike weather right now 🙂

  9. This is so pretty! Gorgeous Fiesta Friday contribution.

  10. I have a love relationship with panna cotta, and one as special as this one. 😀

  11. Mmmm. I love panna cotta, but have never tried a lemon one. Yours looks just beautiful!

  12. I adore cardamom and always look for ways to use it. This is my second great find this week. 🙂 Happy FF to you!

  13. Love panna cotta! Your creation with lemon curd looks absolutely delicious and gorgeous at the same time. And cardamom tastes so great in any dessert. !

  14. A dessert filled with sunshine. LOVE this!! I look forward to catching up on your blog! 🙂 Lovely..LOVELY recipe.

  15. Laura, I love panna cotta! This is such a nice flavor pairing!

  16. Wonderful Panna Cota and lovely presentation 🙂

  17. Mmm…love panna cotta! And lemon curd! So, how can I refuse panna cotta & lemon curd? Adding cardamom in the panna cotta takes it to another level. Thank you for bringing this to the fiesta! XOXO

    • Btw, I just started foodgawker exactly a week ago, and tastespotting a few days ago. I had no idea what they were before! I was excited to see your pictures there. I find it curious that the same pictures I submitted were accepted by one, yet declined by the other! Have you had that experience? And does tastespotting give you a badge? Can I borrow yours?

      • Oh, I wanted to ask you about this too – I noticed your foodgawker badge the other day! I just joined those sites a couple weeks ago, and yes, I’ve had the exact same experience. But I can’t imagine anyone turning down your photos – ANY of them. I’m just happy to get any of mine up there, and it’s a learning process to figure out what they’re looking for (though perhaps somewhat random). I googled the badge for tastespotting, but I haven’t figured out how to link it properly – it works on some browsers but not others. By all means, use it – I think they have 4 different themes, I like the olive one.

      • I notice that foodgawker seems to like “brighter” pictures, while tastespotting seems to prefer “artistically composed” pictures, whatever that means, haha… I have no clue, really. It’s all new to me, but my views did spike after my photos were published, so I guess I should keep trying. Eventually I’ll get it right. Your photos are amazing!

      • Yeah, it’s a great traffic booster. I also joined tasteologie and dishfolio — no noticeable difference in dishfolio, but tasteologie is another good one, and not as picky about photos, it seems. Let’s keep each other posted! Oh, my jellies are up on tasteologie! 😉 And more rejections from fg, oh well!

    • Thank you, Angie! I’m happy to join such a fun and talented group of people – you know how to throw a party!

  18. Wow these look so pretty and refreshing! Such great pictures too.

  19. Beautiful photos! Love panna cotta!

  20. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #6 | The Novice Gardener

    • Aww, thank you so much, Angie! I’m in awe week after week of what your guests bring to the party! So happy to mingle among this crowd. Thanks for starting up this great weekly event! xo Laura

  21. Beautiful looking dessert. I am a big fan of single serve desserts. Gorgeous!

  22. Beautiful dessert, it looks so fresh!

  23. Yum, this sounds lovely! I love all of these flavors, especially lemon and cardamom together.

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