Amaretto is a sweet Italian almond-flavoured liqueur that was originally made with a combination of sweet and bitter almonds. Nowadays, apricot kernels are more commonly used to flavour it instead. The almond milk in this recipe is purely to give some extra almond flavour.






Skill level

Average: 3.7 (12 votes)


Amaretto caramel

  • 500 g caster sugar
  • 100 ml water
  • 350 ml amaretto


Almond milk

  • 165 g (1 cup) whole raw almonds, skins on
  • water for soaking
  • pinch of salt
  • 500 ml water


Panna cotta

  • 100 ml pouring cream
  • 120 g honey
  • 2 bay leaves, slightly crushed
  • 1 vanilla pod, cut in half and scraped
  • 1 tsp river salt
  • sheets titanium gelatine
  • 350 g mascarpone
  • 250 ml almond milk


To serve

  • 30 g sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time overnight

Chilling time 6 hours or overnight

You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead. 

To make the caramel, place the sugar and water in a high sided saucepan on a high heat, bring to the boil and continue boiling rapidly until it starts to darken, about 5 minutes, at this stage you can reduce the heat slightly.

As the caramel starts to darken, be on high alert, you want to catch it before it burns. As soon as you feel it’s getting close, about 3 more minutes, turn the heat right down and carefully pour in the amaretto. The dangers that can be found here are from potential steam burns and also a chance the mixture may spit a little but don’t be scared. 

Raise the heat and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes by which stage you should have a nice syrup. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool. This stage can be done in advance and kept in the fridge.

To make the almond milk, soak the almonds in a bowl of water with a pinch of salt and let them sit overnight.

The next day, give the almonds a good rinse and then place them in a blender with the measured water. Blend on high for 5 minutes. 

Strain this mix through muslin and let in hang for a few hours to gently collect all of your almond milk. The milk will only last a few days but any excess can be frozen or used in a drink.

To make the panna cotta, place the cream, honey, bay leaves, vanilla and salt into a saucepan, put over a medium heat and slowly bring to a boil. Once it has boiled, turn off the heat and let it sit for half an hour or so to let the flavours infuse. 

Once the time is up, place the gelatine to soak in some cold water. While it’s soaking, strain the cream mix into another saucepan and gently warm it again. As soon as your gelatine sheets have softened whisk them into the warmed cream mix. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and almond milk. Pour the cream mix over the top and whisk everything together until you have a smooth combined mix. 

Pour the mix evenly between six small serving bowls and allow to cool to room temperature before wrapping each dish and placing it in the fridge to set. You will need to leave it for at least 6 hours.

To serve, pour a generous amount of the caramel into each bowl and then top with the flaked almonds divided evenly between each.


Cooks’s tips

• You can buy commercially produced almond milk but it is very easy to make.

• If you so desired you could also make your own mascarpone because that’s easy too. Here's my recipe.

• The caramel recipe makes far more than you need but will happily last at least a month in your fridge, ready to be used at whim.


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Peta Gray. Creative concept by Lou Fay.


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This recipe is part of The Seasonal Cook: Almonds column. 


View previous The Seasonal Cook columns and recipes.