These are a great dinner party dessert and would make a great Christmas day dessert for those who don’t like the traditional Christmas pudding…
Serve with either a berry compote or fresh mango and passionfruit….
Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert and literally translated means “cooked cream”. It is usually made from a mixture of cream, sugar and gelatin, but this is a much lighter version. And its incredibly easy.
I used a lite coconut milk (or a combination of soy and coconut milk), a small amount of honey and vanilla bean paste.
I also chose not to use gelatin.
Gelatin is derived from collagen obtained from various animal by-products (skin, bones and connective tissues) usually from cows and pigs. A great alternative to use is agar agar, sometimes also called “vegetarian gelatin”, which comes from seaweed.
Agar agar is used widely in Asia in desserts and other cooking. It has no taste, odour or colour and sets more firmly than gelatin and can even set at room temperature. It is available at Asian shops. It comes as powder or flakes, but I have only ever seen and used the powder (I have read that one teaspoon of agar agar powder is equivalent to one tablespoon of flakes).
This is a delightfully simple dessert to make but still has the wow factor.
It takes no more than 10 minutes to make, only needs 2 hours to set and will even set at room temperature.
It can be made up to 5 days ahead, so it is a great dinner party dessert for those well organized entertainers, to limit what you need to do on the day!
Best of all, it is extremely low in calories – especially when compared with a traditional panna cotta.
It has about 1/6th of the calories of a regular panna cotta, yet is just as delicious. Just try it and see for yourself!
- 2 cups (500 ml) coconut milk - or your choice of any other milk, or combinations of milk (I rather like 1½ cups soy milk + ½ cup coconut milk)
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
- ¾ teaspoon agar agar powder
- 3 teaspoons water
- Heat the coconut (or your choice of) milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it JUST starts to boil.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the honey and vanilla bean extract.
- Mix the agar agar powder with the 3 teaspoons of water and stir until dissolved.
- Slowly add the agar mixture to the soy milk mixture stirring all the time until well combined.
- Return saucepan to heat and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Pour into 6 x ⅓-1/2 cup capacity ramekins (see note below) and set aside for 2-3 hours or refrigerate overnight.
- Top with mixed berries, mango and passionfruit or balsamic strawberries to serve.
Note: The moulds I used are from Tupperware called “muffin form” they are a silicon mould which do not need to be greased and by running a knife gently around the edge, easily release the panna cottas when you invert it and press gently on the bottom of the mould. These moulds surprisingly hold only 1/3 cup (80ml), but I find them the perfect size dessert serve. To save time when serving, panna cottas can also be set in a glass bowl. Just allow mixture to cool slightly before pouring them into the bowls. Simply top with chosen fruit to serve, or serve with a bowl of berry compote that guests can help themselves to.
*Soy – it is a controversial subject on the internet, but if you follow evidence based studies and population studies you will know of the health benefits of soy. Just some of these include lowering risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, or increasing survival rates of those who have had breast cancer and reducing age related weight gain (abdominal fat). So don’t get caught up with the negative Chinese whispers about soy, check out the evidence and make your own well informed choice.