Christine Manfield's Green Tea Panna Cotta, Masala Chai Sauce and Cumin Shortbread

This is Christine's favourite treat from Glenburn Tea Estate near Darjeeling, where the elegance of their estate teas is woven into this dessert. It’s a house signature that allows the flavour of the tea to shine through. Their chefs have adapted tradition and given a more Western interpretation and presentation. You can set the panna cotta into small pudding moulds then dip into hot water to turn out onto plates when serving. Otherwise, the easier option is to set them in glasses or small bowls from which they are served. It tastes exactly the same, either way.


2 cups (500ml) pouring cream
1 cup (250ml) full-cream milk
2 tablespoons Darjeeling green tea leaves
125g caster sugar
10g gold strength gelatine leaves, softened in cold water and squeezed

100g unsalted butter, softened
50g caster sugar
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, dry-roasted and ground
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
3 teaspoons pouring cream
125g plain flour, sifted

1 cup (250ml) pouring cream
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 green cardamom pods, cracked
2 tablespoons Assam (black) tea leaves
⅓ cup (75g) caster sugar


To make the panna cotta, heat the cream, milk, tea leaves and sugar in a saucepan over low heat for 5–6 minutes or until the tea is infused and the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and set aside for 30 minutes to infuse.

Return milk mixture to low heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the softened gelatine and stir for 2 minutes or until dissolved. Remove from heat, strain through a fine mesh sieve and pour into small (150 ml-capacity) dariole moulds or bowls until ⅔ full. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or until set.

To make the cumin shortbread, place the butter, sugar, cumin and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and whisk until pale and creamy. Add the cream and whisk to combine, taking care not to overwork the dough. Fold in the flour until combined. Turn the dough out onto the bench and use your hands to bring the dough together. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour to chill until firm.

Roll the dough out on a bench to 4 mm-thick and cut into rounds using a 6 cm-round pastry cutter. Place the biscuits on a silicone baking mat or flat baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper. Cut enough biscuits to ensure there are 2 per serve and reserve any extra shortbread dough for later use. It can be frozen for up to 1 month in a vacuum-sealed bag. Place the biscuits in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill. This prevents them from shrinking during baking.

Preheat oven to 170ºC. Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes or until light golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

To make the masala chai sauce, place the cream in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, add the ginger, cardamom and tea leaves and stir to combine. Simmer for 2 minutes, add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Let the sauce cool for 10 minutes before straining. Place in the fridge to chill before using.

To turn out the panna cotta, dip each mould in hot water for 20 seconds to loosen, then invert onto serving plates. The panna cotta should slide out from the mould. Spoon over the masala chai sauce to make a 1 cm-thick layer and serve with the cumin shortbread.