It has been a long time since I have blogged. Put simply I ran out of steam. I was organising a photobook for my partner for Christmas and it took up all my waking moments for the past 6 weeks pre holidays ! We then had a little trip to Hawaii for New Year. In addition, I have been lacking a little inspiration in the kitchen of late and cooking up pretty simple meals and reducing our carb intake. Anyway, excuses over, I’m back to blogging …and first recipe of the year is my panna cotta.
I’ve been road testing recipes for panna cotta for a few months. One recipe was based on Greek yoghurt, another included marscapone, there was one version with vanilla and grated orange rind (Sean Moran). Then there was the pièce de resistance, coconut cream.
I like to serve the panna cotta with a simple fruit compote. Now this could be strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or a mix of berries. Pomegranate also works. Passionfruit is particularly great with the coconut – and for a fabulous tropical combination add a little fresh chopped mango when serving.
What I have discovered with this dessert, is that it is pretty full proof and very difficult to stuff it up! Follow these tips and in five minutes, voila, you have the perfect panna cotta ready to go into the fridge to set. And even better, only one pan to wash up!
1. Some recipes use powdered gelatine, however I prefer to use gelatine sheets.
2. You can substitute the coconut cream for 200ml marscapone, or 200ml Greek yoghurt, or additional 200ml full fat cream. I recommend using the Kara brand coconut cream, that come in a Tetra pak. It is the closest to home made.
3. You can reduce the sugar to 1 tblspn, if you prefer to keep down the calories, it will be less sweet, but still delicious. My sweetener of choice is coconut palm sugar. This gives the panna cotta a slight caramel colour (rather than the traditional snowy white) and a in my opinion a better flavour – plus it is low-GI (35). I have yet to experiment with Xylitol (a natural sweetener, that has no carbs or effect on blood sugar).
4. You can omit the vanilla bean paste and substitute with a fresh vanilla bean, but don’t bother substituting with vanilla essence, it ain’t going to cut it !
5. A very light brush of macadamia oil in the mould will help the panna cotta to slide out of the dish easily.
6. This will make 4 serves of panna cotta (½ cup capacity). You can easily double the recipe.
7. Allow the panna cotta to set for 3-4 hours. It will get thicker as time goes one and will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.
8. Tap each dish lightly a few times to release the air bubbles. As you can see from my pics there are a few tiny air bubbles in mine. I only learnt this trick recently, hence why my pics have bubbles. They still taste fab, but apparently it is a sin to have air bubbles in a perfect panna cotta 🙂
200ml coconut milk (see substitutions listed above)
300ml thickened cream (35%)
1-2 tblpns sugar (see note above)
½ tsp vanilla paste
1.5 sheets of gelatine
1. Mix together cream and coconut milk, add the sugar and stir on medium heat until sugar has dissolved.
2. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine sheet in some cold water in a bowl.
3. Heat the cream mix until you see a few bubbles start to appear in the cream and turn off the heat.
4. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine sheets and add to the cream mix. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved.
5. Allow the cream mix to cool to room temperature. During the cooling down process stir regularly, this will assist the cooling process and stop a skin from forming.
6. Pour the mix evenly into four ½ cup capacity moulds that have been lightly brushed with macadamia oil. Tap moulds lightly a few times to remove air bubbles.
7. Place the panna cotta into the fridge to set (around 3-4 hours).
8. To serve, use your fingers to gently prise the panna cotta from the side of the mould. This should create an air bubble that dislodges the panna cotta gently from the mould. If it still sticks, carefully run a knife around the edge. Turn upside down and un-mould. Serve with fruit compote (recipe to follow).
1 cup of berries (fresh or frozen) OR pulp of 3 passionfruit
Juice of half an orange
Grated rind of an orange quarter
1 tblspn sugar (I use coconut palm sugar)
1. Place all ingredients into a saucepan and stir to combine. Cook on medium heat for around 5 mins until the berries have cooked and the juice has turned into a syrup. Allow to cool and serve a spoon around the panna cotta. Can be made hours ahead.