The set milk in this recipe is based on one of my favourite desserts ever that Phillip Searle used to make at Vulcans in the Blue Mountains. His was set in terracotta pots and was the most amazing texture – the perfect balance of sweet and slight sourness that I love which also allows you to eat more dessert than you really think you can. This version is quite simple to make but does require patience and a good thermometer.






Skill level

Average: 5 (2 votes)


Set milk

  • 2 litre full cream organic milk
  • 2 vanilla pods, split and scraped
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp river salt
  • 1 tbsp bio-dynamic yoghurt

Cherry compote

  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tsp river salt
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon
  • 600 g pitted cherries
  • 75 g brown sugar
  • 1 piece lemon peel
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  • 150 g hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and roughly crushed

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

Place the milk, sugar and vanilla pod in a saucepan, give it a whisk to dissolve the sugar and place on a high heat until just before the milk comes to a boil. At this stage, lower the heat to just below a gentle simmer.

Now it’s just a matter of allowing it to reduce by half over a long period of time. You need to stir it with the whisk every 10 minutes or so. A skin will form over the milk but just keep whisking this back into the mix. You’ll also notice the colour of the milk starts changing from a pure white to slightly more caramelised looking. This process will take about four hours. Please be patient.

Once the milk has reduced by half, strain out the vanilla pods and allow the mix to cool to 45°C. At this stage stir in the yoghurt.

Pour this mix evenly into 6 glasses, wrap each glass with plastic wrap and place them on a tray.

This tray now needs to be kept somewhere warm, ideally at 45°C (controlled), for at least 8 hours or overnight. Find a warm place in your kitchen or wrap your tray in blankets. This is very important as without the right temperature they will not set.

Once they’re set, put them in the fridge and allow them to cool until you are ready to serve.

For the compote
In a mortar and pestle, gently bash the cardamom, peel off and discard the outer skin then add the clove and pound together until very fine.

Place this spice mix along with the cinnamon stick, salt and lemon peel into a saucepan with the cherries and the sugar. Cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes or until the mix starts to caramelise and look a little thick. Add the lemon juice, stir, remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, fish out your cinnamon and lemon peel.

To serve, pull out the glasses of set milk from the fridge, divide the cherry compote evenly over the top of each and sprinkle with the hazelnuts.


• The trick with setting these little beauties is making sure they stay warm enough overnight so the yoghurt cultures keep working. Also, make sure you use a good organic milk and bio-dynamic yoghurt as it has all the happy cultures in it.


Photographs by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd.