For our first dessert, I wanted to choose an ingredient that followed us through our entire trip in Brazil – outside of acai. And coconut imposed itself: from yogurt at breakfast, milk in countless dishes, to water on the beach or chunks in tapioca crepes, it was a very loyal companion along the way.
The simplicity, rapidity and versatility of this recipe makes it a great choice for dinners with friends or family…and is particularly on point after a main course on the heavy side.
Vegan Coconut Panna Cotta
Yield: 6 small panna cottas
1 can Coconut Milk (400g)
3 tbs Sugar (45g)
0.6g Agar agar powder (about an 1/8 tsp)
0.4g Xanthan Gum (Optional add 0.2g Agar if you don’t have Xanthan)
1 pinch Salt (0.2g)
3 tbs Water (at room temp)
Note: You can replace the agar/xanthan gum with 2 tsp gelatin if you prefer. You can also skip or substitute the sugar with 2 tbs of honey to fit a Paleo diet.
- Sprinkle the agar agar on 3-4 tbs of water in the saucepan and let it bloom for 5min.
- Mix in the other dry ingredients before adding the coconut milk.
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a light simmer for about 5 minutes stirring constantly.
- Divide into 6 small ramekins to let it cool down to room temperature.
Leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours, so it has time to set fully.
Covered, it can be kept for a few days.
Tip: to unmold them easily, slightly grease the ramekins with coconut oil before pouring the mixture in.
I made a few tests with either half coconut milk/half coconut cream or with a half of heavy cream.
Heavy cream brings extra creaminess and a silkier texture but also makes it much heavier. While this can be perfect for some occasion, on a hot lazy day I enjoy the lighter and fresher version above more.
The coconut cream enhances the taste, but I ended up with a grainier texture a few times…maybe passing the mixture through a fine sieve could help but, I haven’t tried this yet.
Deluxe lime curd
And to bring a little kick to the dish, there is nothing better than the star of Brazil’s national drink, lime – here turned into curd. This version is a slight adaptation I made of the incredible Sous-vide Meyer lemon curd, from Modernist Cuisine. You need to have a Sous-vide and it requires slightly more work than more traditional recipes, but it is so worth it.
Yield: 1 cup
5 tbs Sugar
Juice of 2 Limes
2 tbs Lime zest
1 Butter stick at room temperature (113g)
A pinch of salt
- Preheat your Sous-vide to 149F (65c).
- While the water is heating, separate the yolks from the whites and bag them. The water-displacement method with a zip-top bag can be simpler but regular Sous-vide bags work too as long as you are familiar with your vacuum machine. If in doubt just go with the water-displacement. Massage the pouch gently to burst the yolks.
- Pasteurize them Sous-vide for 35 minutes.
- In the meantime, place the sugar, salt and zest in a saucepan with 2 tbs of lime juice and cook for a couple of minutes until the syrup is clear. Pour in a smaller recipient and let the syrup cool down to room temperature.
- Pour the pasteurized yolks in a blender, add the syrup gradually while blending. Add cubes of butter one by one until completely blended then add the rest of lime juice.
The Modernist Cuisine recommends to refrigerate for 4h but I prefer to serve the curd straight away or at least when brought back to room temperature.
Covered and in the fridge, the curd can be kept for a few days.
Check out this more traditional lime curd from Nutmeg Nanny if you want a faster, but still delicious option.
Vegan alternative: mango/maracuya coulis
If you want to keep it simple or are looking for a vegan option, this mango and maracuya coulis is a perfect, sweet and tangy alternative.
30g Passion fruit pulp
Honey to taste (optional)
If using frozen fruit, you can defrost them in the microwave but make sure not to cook them. I prefer to let them thaw on the counter when doing the Panna Cotta.
Blend everything and correct acidity with some honey to taste. Keep in mind that you want the coulis to stay acidic enough to give the Panna Cotta a kick.