For those of you who couldn’t come Tuesday night to the Ferry Building you missed out on one of the Bay Area’s most delicious desserts: Panna Cotta from Il Davide Restaurant in San Rafael. Chef David Haydon himself was there to serve guests, and I’m happy to announce he’s sharing his recipe with Chick Lit + Wine. Make sure you keep scrolling and get the recipe for the Salted Caramel Sauce.

Sage infused vanilla Panna Cotta


    • 3 tablespoons water
    • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
    • 4 cups heavy cream
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 bunch of sage =15 sage leaves
    • Salted caramel sauce
    • 2 tablespoons black finishing salt
    • 1 teaspoon of aged balsamic vinegar
    • Fresh berries for garnish


In a small bowl, combine the water and gelatin and let soak about 10 minutes (do not stir). Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the cream, vanilla bean and sugar to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. In a small sauce pan blanch sage leaves for I minute in boiling water, remove and chop leaves and add to cream mixture. As soon as it simmers, turn off the heat and add the gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve the gelatin. If the gelatin doesn’t completely dissolve in 3 minutes, return the mixture to the heat and warm gently until dissolved. Pour the mixture through fine sieve or strainer then transfer  into 6 to 8 ramekins or dessert cups. Chill, uncovered, 2 hours.

To assemble panna cotta, pour salted caramel mixture on top to and let sit for 1 minute then add drops of balsamic and a pinch of black salt.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Yield: 1 cup of sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 15 minutes

1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fleur de sel (or any other flaky sea salt)

    1. Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. You’ll see that the sugar will begin to form clumps, but that’s okay. Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down.
    2. Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.
    3. Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, cook the sugar until it reaches 350 degrees F.
    4. As soon as the caramel reaches 350 degrees, add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted
    5. Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel and whisk to incorporate


No time to cook your own Panna Cotta? I guess you’ll just have to come join me for dinner at Il Davide when you’re in the area!

xx, Syrah