Serve with shortbread biscuits, almond bread or other sweet ready-made biscuits or wafers
Serves 6
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The unlikely combination of black pepper, strawberry and basil pays off in this rich, creamy yet fruity dessert that’s sure to make a lasting impression.


  • 1 bunch fresh basil (20 g)
  • 250 strawberries, plus extra to serve (optional)
  • 3 titanium-strength gelatine leaves (15 g)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk
  • 600 ml pouring cream
  • 1 cup (220 g) caster sugar
  • 2 tsps freshly ground black pepper
Pick a handful of small basil leaves; reserve to serve.

For granita, pick ½ cup firmly packed basil leaves. Place basil in a small saucepan with ¾ cup of the sugar and 2¼ cups (560 ml) water over medium heat; cook, stirring, without boiling until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; cook for 8 mins. Cool slightly.


Trim tops from strawberries. Place strawberries in a food processor. Pour syrup through a fine sieve over strawberries; discard solids. Process until smooth and combined. Pour strawberry mixture into a 20 cm x 30 cm slice pan. Freeze granita for 1 hr.


Using a fork, break up any ice crystals in the granita. Freeze for a further 3 hrs, scraping with a fork every hour or until frozen.


Meanwhile, place gelatine in a medium bowl of cold water; soak for 5 mins or until softened. Remove; squeeze out excess water. Set aside.


Place milk, cream, remaining sugar and the pepper in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm but not simmering. Remove pan from heat; add gelatine and stir until dissolved. Strain panna cotta mixture into a jug; cover surface directly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 mins.


Stir panna cotta mixture; pour into six 150 ml serving glasses. Cover; refrigerate for 3 hrs or until set.


Serve panna cotta topped with spoonfuls of granita, sliced extra strawberries and reserved small basil leaves. Serve immediately.

TIP Granita can be made a day ahead. You may also use 2 tsps vanilla extract instead of the black pepper.


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