I was in charge of bringing dessert to the dinner gathering…
…probably because I was the food blogger with all the lovely desserts in my Recipes archive. But I had been testing recipes the whole day before, and I didn’t have want to make a complex ordeal.
I asked myself, “What feels celebratory and looks beautiful, but requires minimal effort? And what can I transfer easily from my house to the host’s house (i.e., not a carefully frosted cake)?”
Panna cotta. Elegant and easy, it accommodates most dietary restrictions as it is egg, dairy, grain, and nut free.
Before we get to the recipe, I want to pass along the panna cotta tip I learned from Nom Nom Paleo’s Michelle Tam:
Gelatin’s important for gut and joint health — but I’d much rather down a mug of steaming bone broth rather than chew on rubbery, over-gelatinized panna cotta. Pro tip: If you can hold a bowl of panna cotta upside down over your head with nary a care about messing up your beautifully coiffed head of hair, you used too much gelatin in your dessert. (Or you’re a total slob. Or both.)
The amount of gelatin in this recipe ensures a creamy texture, but is not hugely significant for supplemental value. If you do want recipes that feature therapeutic levels of this superfood ingredient, please download my free cookbook The Collagen Cookbook.
About the ingredients in Coconut Milk Panna Cotta
Canned coconut milk — If you want a creamy panna cotta, rather than something that tastes like milk pudding, you must use the full-fat canned coconut milk. Almond/hemp/rice milk etc. lack the essential richness.
Gelatin — Gelatin sets this pudding, providing a texture similar to flan but without eggs.
Orange zest and mint — These infuse into the coconut milk before being strained out. The resulting panna cotta tastes reminiscent of a creamsicle, but without the cloying artificial sweetness of those processed treats. If you do not have fresh mint on hand, you could use 1/4 tsp. mint extract.
As I type this, I’m already brainstorming alternative flavor combos for this panna cotta. Almond extract with a 1/2 teaspoon of grated ginger, I think, would be phenomenal! Have fun tweaking this base recipe to fit your flavor creativity, and share with us what you create in the comments.
- Have ready 4 ramekins for individual portions. Alternatively, you can set the panna cotta in a medium glass casserole dish, and scoop it out for "rustic, family-style" servings. Not as pretty, but still tasty.
- Have the coconut milk at room temperature. The coconut cream will naturally separate from the watery liquid in the cans, so use a blender or immersion blender to blend the coconut milk until smooth and creamy.
- In a medium saucepan, pour in 1 cup coconut milk. Sprinkle the gelatin over it, and let sit 5 minutes. Then, place the saucepan over medium heat and whisk until the gelatin is dissolved and the mixture is very hot.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and whisk the remaining ingredients. Let sit for an hour to steep the orange and mint. Then, strain out the orange and mint and pour the liquid into four ramekins.
- Let the panna cotta set for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
- Serve with fresh berries or fruit sauce, if desired.