You know those lavish dinner spreads that need a stunning finish? The vegan coconut panna cotta is your answer. This velvety, creamy, luscious dessert is one of the prettiest when all dressed up!
Officially, this is my second attempt at a panna cotta. The first one was a Mango Panna Cotta I made last year. Unofficially, it is the umpteenth attempt because all the previous ones were devoured before I could take even a single photo worthy of the blog. I could blame it on the kids, but whom am I kidding, I am equally guilty.
How to Make Vegan Coconut Panna Cotta?
Wondering why I took the effort to make the insanely delicious dessert again and again? Because the recipe is no-fuss. The complete prep-time is barely 10 mins. The refrigerator does the rest of the work. And when you are elbows deep in pans and spatulas for a dinner party, that’s the best kind of recipe you need.
All you need to do is mix coconut milk (the full-fat version) with raw sugar in a saucepan while gently heating it. For a splash of hidden flavor to the panna cotta, split a vanilla bean lengthways and drop it into the mixture.
Whisk in the agar-agar into the pan and stir till the ingredients blend. Agar-agar is the vegan alternative to gelatine, but you can as efficiently use the latter for the recipe. Also, agar-agar, aka China Grass, is very readily available on amazon.
The trick to a great panna cotta is to keep the heat low. Just enough for the raw sugar to dissolve. Do not boil the mixture or your agar-agar will be rendered useless.
Once you have a lovely creamy blend, strain it through a sieve. Now pour it into dessert glasses (the classiest ones you have), and you’re done.
Let the panna cotta sit in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours and then garnish it right before you are ready to serve.
How to make the strawberry sauce?
Panna cotta, which is an Italian dessert, literally means cooked cream; even though you don’t heat it to a boil. The beauty of it lies in its base, which is somewhat like custard. It lends itself to any flavor, meaning you can pair it with unquestionably anything.
I like to counterbalance the tropical savour of coconut with fresh fruits and just a smidgen of nuts. So, I used the strawberry sauce as the top note, which I made by heating chopped up fresh strawberries with a splash of water and raw sugar. The amount of sugar you use depends upon how sweet or sour the berries are.
When you’ve got a thick, rich sauce spoon it on the panna cotta. I love a bit of a textured feel to the strawberry sauce, but for this dessert, I blended it to make it smooth. Keeping it soft and delicate here!
Serving the light coconut panna cotta
I utilised crystal for the panna cotta because serving it on a plate takes a bit of magic and skill of hand. But if your heart is set on plating, then grease the bowls you use to set the panna cotta. When you turn the bowl upside down on a plate to unmould it, the grease makes sure that all of it slides out smoothly.
Prettying-up the vegan coconut panna cotta
This is officially my favourite part of this culinary marvel that takes absolutely no energy.
You can serve it plain and the light, creamy panna cotta just melts in your mouth. Add a dollop of the ruby-red strawberry sauce and then sprinkle very finely chopped pistachios with a sprig of mint to impress the most discerning of an epicurean.
You can even top it up with edible flowers as I did for the mango panna cotta. Another choice you have is seasonal fruits. All of them, from pineapple to cherries, taste amazingly delicious with it.
A final Tasha’s tip is to keep nuts in barely-there amounts. The dainty savor of vegan coconut panna cotta lies in its incredibly soft and smooth texture. Huge chunks of nuts just make it less satisfying and you definitely don’t want that!
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Vegan Coconut Panna Cotta
- 400 ml Coconut milk, full fat
- 1/4 cup Raw sugar
- 1 Vanilla bean, split lengthways.
- 2.5 tsp Agar Agar
- 5-6 Strawberries, chopped
- 1-2 tsp Raw sugar You may need more
- 1-2 tbsp Water
- In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the coconut milk, vanilla bean and sugar just to a gentle boil until sugar dissolves.
- Take off the heat. Whisk in the agar-agar.
- Bring back to a gentle simmer. Don't let the mixture boil. Pour the mixture through a sieve to ensure there are no lumps.
- Discard the vanilla bean. Make sure all the beans from the pod have been scraped out and put back in the mixture.
- Pour into serving bowls and refrigerate to set completely for 6-8 hours. You can even let it set overnight.
- Top with the strawberry sauce and serve immediately. Enjoy!
- Combine the strawberries, raw sugar and 1 - 2 tablespoon of water in a small saucepan. Cook until the strawberries are soft and cooked through. Run this sauce through a blender to make it smooth. Taste and adjust for sweetness. Let it cool completely before pouring it on top of the panna cotta.