Panna Cotta is one of the desserts that I use to love eating in Italian restaurants. Since deciding not to eat dairy, I haven’t had panna cotta when I’ve eaten out. And I’ve finally found a way to enjoy it again – vegan panna cotta!
Recently, when I was doing Module 4 of The Vegan Chef and Lifestyle Training on Wholefoods, our Italian teacher showed us how to make panna cotta. And my life has changed. That was only a few weeks ago and I’ve already made it lots of times.
It fits in well with my criteria for cooking – it has to be easy! I think I say a recipe is easy everytime I post one. This one requires one saucepan and less than 20 minutes to make. You do have to wait a little bit longer for it to set.
With this recipe there’s only one thing that is out of the ordinary. It’s called agar agar. It’s a replacement for gelatine. Gelatine is a setting agent that turns liquids into gels. The problem is it’s made from collagen which is derived from various animal body parts – like the skin of pigs and cows and demineralised bones. Surely no one likes that.
The alternative is agar agar. You can get it online from Aussie Foods Direct, or at a health food store. You usually only need a teaspoon at a time, so it will last a while and you can use it for anything that has to set – cheesecakes, panna cotta, custard, jams, jellies etc. Agar agar is made from algae and it sets much faster than gelatine.
Agar agar needs to be dissolved in liquid by stirring it over a medium heat and then simmering until it thickens.
I’ve used light agave in this recipe purely for the colour. You can use any liquid sweetener but it will affect the colour of the panna cotta, which is traditionally fairly light.
Arrowroot is a thickener and together with the agar agar helps to thicken and set the coconut cream and rice milk. If you don’t have arrowroot, you can use tapioca or even cornflour/cornstarch.
This recipe is based on one from Anthea Amore’s cookbook Passion. Get it from her website. So many great recipes in here!