Does anyone else ever need just a bite of something sweet — but not too sweet? That is me almost all the time. I like dessert, but I’m generally more into savory foods, so I prefer my sweets to be a little more subtle. This is why I like panna cotta so much: it’s sweet, versatile, and can be customized with any number of toppings.
This particular recipe for panna cotta is a gem. It’s dairy free and made with coconut milk, so just about anyone at your table should be able to eat it (unless, of course, you have someone with coconut allergies or are cooking vegan). Because of the coconut milk, it also has a slightly tropical taste that complements a number of dishes, or can fade subtly into the background if that isn’t the flavor profile you are going for.
To take it to the next level, we added lemon syrup and some candied lemon rounds (as always, thanks Trader Joe’s!) on top. Along with the panna cotta, we’ve included the recipe for the syrup below, and highly recommend using whatever fresh citrus juice you have around for the syrup. You could also swap the lemon syrup out for a maple or a berry syrup. Really, the base is so flexible, you could do just about anything with it.
One final thing: unlike a traditional panna cotta, which ends up being more like a custard in consistency, this panna cotta forms a creamier coconut milk layer on top, and an equally dense but slightly less creamy portion on the bottom. If you are used to a dairy-based panna cotta which can be removed from its container and served on a plate, know that this separation might make that more challenging for you. I tend to prepare and serve mine in the same dish, so it hasn’t been a problem for me.
- For panna cotta:
- 1 tsp coconut oil (for greasing the ramekins that will hold the panna cotta)
- 1 envelope unflavored powdered gelatin--I found this at Whole Foods
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk, divided in 2 equal parts
- 1 can coconut cream--NOT just the cream on top of the coconut milk
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- For lemon syrup:
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- Coat 4 ramekins with coconut oil, then set aside.
- Combine the gelatin and half the can of coconut milk in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Set aside.
- Whisk together the other half of the coconut milk, maple syrup, and the can of coconut cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Continue to whisk until blended.
- Add vanilla and salt. Let simmer.
- Remove from the heat, then whisk in the gelatin and coconut milk mixture and immediately separate into your four ramekins and let set in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
- While these are chilling, make the lemon simple syrup.
- Lemon Syrup:
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and whisk together until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. When you are ready to serve your dessert, drizzle some syrup over the top and garnish with a dried lemon.