One of my favorite desserts is panna cotta, a creamy gelatin-based dessert originating from Northern Italy in Piedmont (possibly since the Middle-ages). Panna cotta translates to “cooked cream” in Italian. So delicious. If I see it on a dessert menu, I am most often going to order it! Light, yet creamy and rich-tasting. I like it even better than custard. I think it is about time that I tried to make this dessert! But I always like to play around with ingredients. Tweaking things is a fascination of mine. I just can’t help it even if a food experiment sometimes ends up as a mess or something not palatable at all. Luckily, this recent panna cotta experimentation was a success. Panna cotta should be fool-proof. As David Lebovitz says, “Panna cotta is incredibly easy to make, and if it takes you more than five minutes to put it together, you’re doing something wrong.”
There are some great dishes out in the blog world that celebrate spring and all its green-ness and vibrancy, so I thought I would chime in and do something with avocados as they are in season here. Creamy and rich, I thought it would be a nice parallel in panna cotta. So here’s a spring recipe contribution: avocado-coconut panna cotta.
Gelatin is a main component of panna cotta, though you can use agar-agar if you want to keep it vegan. Bloom it in some cold non-dairy or dairy milk, whichever you prefer.
Making this dessert also involves scalding milk and cream together with sugar. I used coconut cream, but heavy dairy cream or some of these vegan substitutions would be great too for a coconut-less version. If you use coconut milk as the milk component in addition to the coconut cream, it will be really coconut-ty, so use a milk other than that (unless you want it really intensely coconut flavored).
Photo credit: spiceboxwhisky.com
Spicebox Canadian spiced whisky is an optional ingredient. I like the bit of vibrant flavor that it brings in with the avocado and coconut. You could also add a pinch of cinnamon as a substitute for the spiced whisky.
I love this raw honey from Trader Joe’s. It’s very flavorful, so don’t use too much, just 1-2 teaspoons in this recipe. But it’s optional as well.
Some blender action with the avocado puree. An immersion blender would be better to use because it is easier and faster to get the puree out. It took a bit of time to get it out of the blender pitcher. A teaspoon of lemon juice helps to prevent from browning, but don’t go overboard with it to make it too sour. The puree gets whisked in with the cream/gelatin mixture. Make the puree right when you are ready to whisk it in. Don’t do it ahead of time because it can brown relatively rapidly.
This avocado saver is a must if you love to eat avocados. I can only eat up to a half of one at a time, so this comes in very handy. 😀
For the molds, I used silicone cupcake liners. I like the portion size on these, but feel free to use whatever mold you want such as ramekins or a single mold. If you plan to unmold them, I like to spray some oil on it to make it easier to get out. Make sure to wrap them tightly with plastic wrap since avocados brown because of exposure to air.
Eat it in the cup plain…or…
…plop it on a plate…or…
…put some toppings on! I felt like a couple of avocado pieces, chocolate sauce and chopped cashews. 🙂
Avocado-Coconut Panna Cotta
~Half-dozen cupcake-sized servings
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (or 1 teaspoon agar-agar)
- 1/4 cup cold almond milk (alternatives: dairy, soy, hemp, pistachio, or your favorite milk will be fine, though coconut milk will result in a really intense coconut flavor)
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice
- 1-2 teaspoons raw honey (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- ~2 tablespoons Spicebox spiced Canadian whisky (optional)
- 1 Haas avocado
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Various toppings: chocolate sauce, chopped nuts, coconut, avocado, fruit sauce, etc.
- Bloom the gelatin: dissolve gelatin or agar-agar in half of the cold milk. Mix, set aside and let thicken for a few minutes.
- On medium-low heat in a small saucepan, whisk the remaining milk, coconut cream, 1 tablespoon of the evaporated cane juice, raw honey, salt, and spiced whisky. Heat this mixture until scalded or just before it comes to a simmer, which should be 180 degrees F.
- Add the gelatin mixture and whisk until combined. Remove from heat and set aside to cool until lukewarm.
- Using a food processor, immersion blender, or other type of blender, puree the avocado, remaining 1 tablespoon of evaporated cane juice and lemon juice together until smooth.
- Whisk this avocado mixture to the scalded cream/gelatin mixture. Strain through a sieve and pour into molds. Wrap well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. Un-mold or serve in cups with toppings.
Note: If using silicone cupcake molds, spray with cooking oil before pouring in the panna cotta mixture so that it is easier to unmold.
I grew up having avocado “milkshakes” (with some avocado chunks too) when the weather was warmer and this avocado-coconut panna cotta kind of reminds me of it. Takes me back to those days when my mom would open up a can of evaporated milk and my dad would get the avocados ready for those green milkshakes. It’s a nice remix of a childhood favorite.
- Why Panna Cotta Is the Perfect Dessert (thekitchn.com)
- Easter Sweets: Butterfinger Panna Cotta with Easter Egg Nests (nestleusa.wordpress.com)
- Honey Almond Panna Cotta – A guest post on Anita’s blog (gattusjournal.wordpress.com)
- Earl Grey Panna Cotta w Spicy Peach (foodandmusicpassingby.wordpress.com)
- Chocolate Panna Cotta (dessertcrisis.wordpress.com)