This is another example of a dish that can be easily tampered with and flavours substituted in and out, and indeed this is a modified version of what was once a basic vanilla panna cotta. It would be worth seeking out a basic panna cotta recipe if you want to make flavour changes, but don’t try and make an estimated guess at substitutions from this one – it’s too far gone I’m afraid.
Just like me, coconut milk can be prone to unpredictable behaviour. A ripe coconut cracked open does not bleed coconut milk. No. The liquid inside a coconut is ‘coconut water’. Coconut milk on the other hand is a commercial product derived from ground coconut flesh with water added, which if left to stand will separate and produce ‘coconut cream’. This explains their inconsistent qualities (sometimes my panna cotta turn-out with a gelatinous layer wobbling on the top, and sometimes they don’t) and also why I’ve used both in this recipe.
Coconut products are generally high in fats, which is why we need to temper its oiliness with double cream.
And as far as gelatine goes, don’t even bother with the powdered stuff, there’s room for error and they’re a right faff.
One last point, set your panna cotta in something that will be easy to turn out, such as individual pudding basins or dariole moulds – nothing with ridges, bulges or scalloping.
(This recipe will make 8 – 10)
- 215g caster sugar
- 300ml semi-skimmed milk
- Half pre-used scraped-out vanilla pod (that means one without its seeds). If you don’t have one hanging around, don’t forego a new vanilla pod just for this, you’ll get by without.
- 1x 400ml tin of coconut milk
- 1x 200g block of coconut cream
- 425ml double cream
- 4 ½ sheets gelatine (mine weigh 4g each)
Put the block of coconut cream, sugar, milk and vanilla pod in a pan over a low heat and stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar and melt the coconut.
Place the gelatine sheets in something long enough to accommodate them and fill with cold water. Let them soak for at least 5 minutes.
Once everything in the pan is liquid, increase the heat but don’t let it boil - noticeable and continuous steam would be a good indicator.
Now, check your tin of coconut milk, if there’s a solid layer on the top, scrape the whole lot into a jug and shove it in the microwave for a minute to melt it.
Add the double cream to the coconut milk, and stir to combine.
Remove the gelatine from the water, drip dry for 20 seconds or squeeze them gently, but beware, the heat from your hand will be sufficient to start melting them if you handle it for too long.
Add the gelatine to the pan and stir thoroughly, still stirring, pour in the double cream and coconut milk. Do some more stirring.
If your pan can be trusted to pour neatly, fill your moulds directly from the pan, otherwise use that jug you melted the coconut milk in. Leave them to cool for 30 minutes before putting them in the fridge ever so carefully.
Give them a good 4 – 6 hours setting time.
To turn them out, you only need to warm the outside of the mould sufficiently to loosen them, before inverting onto a plate. You could use the warmth of your hand, run them carefully and quickly under a hot tap, or dunk the bases in a pan of recently boiled water.
Currently I am serving these on the menu with some raspberry coulis, fresh raspberries and cashew nut brittle. There are plenty of exciting flavours to pair with coconut; banana, mango, cherry, chocolate, peanut, pineapple and so on and so forth.