Though literally translated panna cotta means “cooked cream”, you won’t need any cream for this vegan panna cotta. There’s more to come. You’ll neither need any gelatin nor sugar to make this Italian classic at home. You can still have a creamy dessert which, arguably, tastes even better but is a lot healthier. How? Well, simply by replacing heavy cream with plant milk – I like to use a blend of almond- and coconut milk – and gelatin by agar agar.
Agar what? Agar agar, as it’s called in the west, is a plant-based gelling agent. It’s obtained from seaweed and serves really well as a substitute for gelatin of animal origin. It is often used in Asian countries, like in Japan, where it’s called Kanten and where gelatin is pretty unknown. This is why you can find it in Asian grocery stores. Agar is also sold in most health food stores and depending on where in the world you are, in drugstores, too. It’s worth mentioning that it often is available in different forms: powder, flakes or threads. For this recipe you will need powdered agar agar.
Traditionally panna cotta is served with some kind of fruit sauce. My absolute favorite has got to be strawberry sauce – especially in combination with vanilla. With ripe strawberries you won’t even need any extra sweetener. Depending on the season, I’d either choose fresh or frozen strawberries. Fresh ones I’d just blend until smooth and then sieve the puree. Whereas if I’m using frozen berries, I heat them in a saucepan first, then mash them with a fork until smooth and sieve. Both methods don’t require more than just a few minutes time. Also, just as the panna cotta, you can prepare the strawberry sauce in advance and store it in the fridge until serving.
This vegan panna cotta is made without gelatin, heavy cream and sugar and it still tastes heavenly. Panna cotta can be prepared in advance, which makes it perfect for those nights when you just want to serve the dessert after dinner without being in the kitchen for too long.
- 1 cup almond milk (250 ml)
- 1 cup coconut milk (250 ml)
- 1 tbsp agar agar (6 g)
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup to taste
- 1/2 tsp vanilla powder (or extract)
- 4 oz strawberries
Combine all the ingredients but the strawberries in a saucepan and let come to a boil. Stirring occasionally, cook for about 2 minutes.
Rinse ramekins with cold water and fill with hot (still liquid) milk. Let cool and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours until set.
If using fresh strawberries, blend them until smooth and sieve optionally.
If using frozen strawberries, place in a saucepan over low heat and mash with a fork before sieving (optionally). Let the sauce cool completely.
Run a knife around the edge of the panna cotta to loosen it from the ramekin. Then turn ramekin upside down on a serving plate.
Serve with strawberry sauce.
Alternatively serve in ramekins and top with strawberry sauce.
- You can use any plant milk, I just find that the blend of almond- and coconut milk works really well for this recipe.
- Check out my recipe for fruit jellies in which I've used agar agar before.
I hope you love this recipe – please let me know in the comment section below! If you make this panna cotta, make sure to take a photo and share it on my Facebook page or on Instagram, using the hashtag #minamadefood. Oh and don’t forget to tag me (@thisisminamade) so that I can see your creations!