Coconut Milk Panna Cotta is a luscious dessert that’s gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free (but definitely not flavor free). It’s especially delicious when paired with a bright citrus compote.
So today was interesting. I did a kitchen walk-through for a client that I’ll be cooking for next month. It’s someone very high profile that I’m seriously so excited to meet. I’m not sure if I’m even allowed to say who it is because I have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Yeah, it’s like that.
Anyway, the house where I went was in a super secluded, SUPER exclusive enclave called Hollister Ranch that’s literally right on the ocean bluffs with roaming cattle, horses and lush green pastures everywhere. This is what I’ll get to stare out at while I’m washing the dishes. I know, right?
So I did the walk through, that was all fine. But my gas light came on in the car on the way there when I still had a bit of a ways to go. And this place is REMOTE, you guys. Cell service is spotty around there at best. After I drove through the property gates I had to drive another 6 miles on this winding private road to get to the house, then 6 miles back to the gate and it was another 13 or so miles to the nearest gas station.
I made it to the gas station, but only barely. Can I just say that driving on empty for almost 30 miles is V STRESSFUL. MY HEART WAS PUMPING THE WHOLE WAY YOU GUYS. I know in the grand scheme of things this is such an inconsequential situation, but running out of gas on the highway is kinda scary. So I was thankful for the close call.
So, where do I even begin to tell you about this Coconut Milk Panna Cotta? I will say that just looking at them calms any lingering anxiety from today’s harrowing ordeal haha. It’s the oranges, they’re so cheer inducing.
This Coconut Milk Panna Cotta was inspired by a dessert I had at Gjelina in Venice a little while ago. I absolutely fell in love with the compote that had little pieces of candied citrus peel mixed in with the fruit, so I created something similar with honey to keep this dessert free of refined sugar.
The panna cotta itself is also sweetened with honey and contains vanilla bean too. There’s no dairy, only full-fat coconut milk, and agar agar stands in for gelatin as the thickening agent. Agar agar is derived from seaweed (but don’t worry, it doesn’t taste a thing like the ocean), making this Coconut Milk Panna Cotta mostly plant based, although technically not vegan because of the honey. If omitting all animal products is important to you I presume substituting agave would have a really similar effect.
A little side note: you can easily serve this dessert un-molded by spraying the vessel you’re chilling the panna cotta in with some non-stick spray and gently shaking them out onto a plate after they’re chilled. I decided not to and kept them in glasses, but I wanted to share that tip with you!
These Coconut Milk Panna Cotta are delicious AF. It’s as simple as that. They are so much lighter than a traditional panna cotta which would totally leave me in a food coma, yet they are still sumptuous and luxurious. I ate this entire batch over the course of a few days- a couple of times for breakfast sprinkled with some of my Paleo Cacao Coconut Granola on top for crunch- without a single bit of remorse.
- For the panna cotta:
- 1 14 ounce can full fat coconut milk
- ½ vanilla bean, split and seeds removed
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon agar agar
- For the compote:
- 1 cara cara (or any variety) orange
- 2 tangerines
- ¼ cup honey
- Add coconut milk, vanilla bean and seeds, honey and agar agar to a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low-medium heat, stirring, until the agar agar is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and discard vanilla bean. Ladle the mixture into four ramekins and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
- Wash the citrus thoroughly in warm water. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest in strips about 1 inch wide, avoiding the bitter white pith (scrape off any remaining pith with a knife, if necessary). Cut strips lengthwise into thin slivers, then cut again horizontally so you have tiny squares (about 2-3mm).
- Place the peels into a small saucepan and cover with water by 1-2 inches. Bring to a boil and cook until soft and translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Drain.
- Bring ½ cup fresh water and honey to a boil in the same saucepan. Add the drained peel, reduce heat to a gentle boil, and cook until peel is translucent, about ten minutes. Transfer peel and honey syrup into a small bowl.
- Slice the orange and tangerines, separating the fruit from the connective membrane and removing any pith. Cut the oranges into smaller pieces if desired, and add to the bowl containing the candied orange peels and honey syrup. Stir to combine and spoon on top of panna cotta before serving.