I’ve eyed Food52 for awhile now – drooling over their recipes, fawning over their contests, so this week I figured what the hell, I’m going to go for it!


So this week the contest was Your Best Walnuts & Sage recipe. “Holidays behind us, we’re ready to return to the pure, clean flavors of winter. We want recipes highlighting the earthiness and muted hues of walnuts and sage – bonus points for thinking beyond pestos.”


Okay. I think I can do that!



Keeping pure, clean flavors of winter in mind, I opted to make one of my favorite healthy desserts – a yogurt panna cotta.  I used brown sugar for a bolder flavor to round out the strong perfumes of sage and used soy and 2% greek yogurt as my base.

To add an element of surprise I made Spiced Candied Walnuts for a nice crunch and playful bite at the end, how else are we supposed to keep warm during these cold winter months?



So there you have it – Enjoy this Brown Sugar Sage Panna Cotta with Spiced Candied Walnuts. This playful wintry dessert will leave you wishing for more.  Feel free to add honey comb and garnish with a fresh sage leaf for an extra touch of elegance.


You can make these a day ahead of time and they can stay stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. To assemble the dish as I have, make sure you layer the candied walnuts under the panna cotta as it serves as a nice crust to the dessert!


Brown Sugar Sage Panna Cotta with Spiced Candied Walnuts
Recipe type: Dessert
Author: Joy Zhang
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 3 hours
Total time: 3 hours 30 mins
Serves: 3-4
A yogurt and soy based panna cotta with scented with sage and topped with spicy candied walnuts
  • Brown Sugar Sage Panna Cotta
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 cup 2% Fage Greek Yogurt
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Fresh Sage
  • Honeycomb, for garnish
  • 3-4 small fresh Sage leaves, for garnish
  • Spiced Candied Walnuts:
  • cup sugar
  • 1 cup raw walnut halves
  • teaspoon cayenne
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In a small bowl, mix the gelatin with the water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer with the sugar and cook until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the softened gelatin until dissolved.
  2. Whisk in the yogurt until evenly mixed. Add fresh sage leaves. Steep for 10-15 minutes. If you prefer a stronger sage flavor, feel free to increase to 1/2 cup of sage. Strain mixture into a 1 quart measuring cup or large bowl. Divide the panna cotta mixture into 4 4-ounce ramekins and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.
  3. To serve, sprinkle each ramekin with candied walnuts and garnish with honey comb and fresh sage if preferred.
  4. ————————————–
  5. In an oven or toaster oven preheat to 350°F. Lay walnuts evenly on baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 5 minutes or until just toasted. Walnuts have high oil content so be careful to not overcook. Remove from oven and cool in a bowl.
  6. In a medium saucepan, pour sugar and cook over medium heat until it begins to melt. Once sugar is a light amber, pour in the nuts and add the cayenne . Stir with a wooden spoon, making sure all walnut pieces are evenly covered.
  7. Spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat if you have one. Use a fork to separate any pieces that are touching and sprinkle with a pinch of Kosher salt. Set aside and cool. Chop into small pieces and place in a small bowl.



  1. Annie @ Annie’s Cooking Lab says: 6 Jan ’12 • 05:34:15

    Those photos are so beautiful and artistic! The dessert looks delicious too, can’t wait to give it a try!


  2. Rosa says: 6 Jan ’12 • 07:02:39

    What an incredible recipe! This panna cotta is beautiful and must have a divine flavor. Gorgeous clicks.




  3. Rich says: 6 Jan ’12 • 13:00:05

    I’ve been enjoying your return back to Joylicious, Joy – this is pretty incredible. Your skill with the camera is truly remarkable.


  4. RavieNomNoms says: 6 Jan ’12 • 15:23:13

    Your photography is exquisite! This looks wonderful


  5. Justin says: 6 Jan ’12 • 15:41:34

    Great post, the photos are stunning!
    I would like to link to it on Zenspotting. Would that be okay?


  6. Sukaina says: 6 Jan ’12 • 15:55:00

    Beautiful Anthropologie bowls Joy. And I love the animation thing going on in the first image.


  7. Soma says: 6 Jan ’12 • 18:39:04

    Just marvelous. I have a feeling I can pick out the sage from this screen. Joy how do you do it?!


  8. Kiri W. says: 7 Jan ’12 • 12:03:28

    Wow, what a stunning desert! Your photography is awesome. Great flavors.


  9. Sandra says: 7 Jan ’12 • 14:19:17

    Food52 is a pretty cool site isn’t it? Congratulations on being in Today’s Top 9, awesome pictures and recipe!


  10. Jaime aka The Tomato Snob says: 7 Jan ’12 • 15:52:38

    This post is awesome! Love panna cotta – love your layout and photographs. Thanks for sharing. PS. What type of camera do you use?


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