Coconut Panna Cotta

Country of origin: Italy

For a dessert after spicy food, I was looking for something light and refreshing that was more than just fruit. I thought that this Coconut Panna Cotta recipe by Heidi Swanson from her book, Super Natural Cooking would do the trick. I served it with mango coulis and shortbread biscuits which were a real cinch to make, but do sadly take down the healthiness rating of the dish. The only downside was that the agar flakes didn’t fully dissolve and sank to the bottom of the puddings.

Panna cotta in its original form is a rich, cream-based dessert, set with gelatine or a vegetarian equivalent. Delicious served with a berry coulis.

This recipe is very quick to make: both coconut and cow’s milk, sugar and agar flakes/powder are heated together and poured into oiled molds to set. However, I lost my nerve when simmering the liquid and took it off the heat too early, resulting in large specks of agar flake that weren’t fully dissolved. I put the mixture through a sieve, but little specks remained which I hoped would dissolve; I think agar powder would have better than flakes. Once you have poured the mixture into molds, they go in the fridge for an hour to set.

The mango coulis is made by chopping and blitzing two ripe mangoes with some lemon juice and superfine/caster sugar to taste. It should go through a fine sieve to get it nice and smooth.

The shortbread biscuits had three ingredients: butter, butter and butter (and a little flour and sugar). Mix, roll and cut into the required shapes, chill in the fridge for 20 minutes and then bake.

Due to all the agar flakes not dissolving, the panna cotta was a little too soft and ready to collapse, but for a quick, rich but not-too-heavy dessert this was good.