Vegan Panna Cotta
WHAT IS PANNA COTTA?
Panna cotta or “Cooked cream” is a traditional Italian dessert that is wildly popular and regularly featured on menus all over the world. This light and creamy pudding is subtle yet satisfying and is usually made with vanilla bean as the main flavour however there really aren’t any limits to the flavour possibilities with this versatile dessert.
Traditional panna cotta is usually not vegan, as it contains dairy and gelatin. So we’re making it plantbased here by leaving out those ingredients and subbing in vegan alternatives. I’ve tested this vegan panna cotta recipe close to ten times to get the consistency and flavour balance just right and it is beyond delicious!
MAKING VEGAN PANNA COTTA
(PS. the full recipe and instructions are in the recipe card at the end of this post)
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Soya milk: I find soya milk works perfectly for this dessert as it’s rich without an overpowering taste, feel free to sub it with coconut drinking milk, oat milk or cashew milk if you’d prefer.
- Coconut cream: this is the key to getting a nice creamy consistency to your vegan panna cotta. You can also use tinned full fat coconut milk, in this case refrigerate the can the night before and only use the thick cream that separates to the top.
- Caster sugar: I use caster sugar as it dissolves easily . If you’re based in the US, be sure to go for organic white sugar as others may not be vegan-friendly due to the processing method.
- Cornflour: this is the thickening agent for the pudding, cornflour is known as cornstarch in the US.
- Agar-agar powder: the setting agent which replaces gelatine which is used in non-vegan panna cotta.
- Vanilla bean paste: you can also use a vanilla pod, by cutting through and cooking it with the mixture as it heats and removing it when done. I find vanilla bean paste to be much more cost-effective, and the quality is really great too. I usually use Neilsen Massey pure vanilla extract and Taylor and Colledge vanilla bean extract.
- Sea salt: although just a pinch, the salt helps to intensify that vanilla bean flavour of this dessert!
- Here are the silicone moulds I use, you can also use serving jars or glasses.
HERE’S HOW TO MAKE PERFECT DAIRY-FREE PANNA COTTA
First make a paste with the cornflour and agar-agar powder with a little soya milk. Mix the ingredients well and set aside, this prevents the cornflour from clumping and giving you a lumpy consistency! Next, add the soya milk and sugar to a saucepan and heat whilst stirring for a couple of minutes until all of the sugar has dissolved. After that add in the coconut cream, vanilla bean paste and salt and bring to a simmer.
For the next step, make sure you don’t leave the saucepan out of your sight. Add the cornflour paste to the saucepan and whisk while it cooks for a few minutes. The mixture will thicken as the cornflour and agar-agar are activated by the heat, therefor it’s important to keep stirring to prevent burning to the bottom of the saucepan.
For the smoothest mouthfeel, I recommend passing the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps or particles before pouring the mixture into silicone moulds or serving jars. The mixture will need to set in the fridge for about 2 hours, in the meantime get started on making the strawberry coulis!
MAKING THE STRAWBERRY COULIS
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Strawberries: preferably fresh if they’re in season, if not, you can go for frozen strawberries. The flavour of the coulis will depend on the quality of strawberries you use.
- Caster sugar: you can also use pure maple syrup to sweeten the coulis if you’d prefer.
- Lime juice: a lot of coulis recipes will call for lemon juice, I personally love the combination of strawberries and lime!
- Cornflour: this helps to thicken the sauce slightly and make it a nice pourable consistency.
HOW TO MAKE STRAWBERRY COULIS
Making the sauce is super easy, you can prepare it while the panna cotta is setting in the fridge so that it has time to cool before you serve them up!
First add the strawberries, sugar and lime juice to your saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook them for about twenty minutes, just giving them the occasional stir. Next add the mixture into your blender along with the cornflour and blitz! Mix the cornflour with a little water to form a paste. Add the strawberry mixture back to the pan along with the cornflour mixture and whisk well. Simmer whilst whisking for another two to three minutes to cook out the cornflour, the sauce will thicken slightly. Then just set the sauce aside to cool while you patiently wait for your panna cotta to set before serving!
Vegan Panna Cotta
VANILLA PANNA COTTA
- 2 tbsp cornflour or cornstarch
- 1 tsp agar-agar powder
- 1 cup soya milk
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 7 oz coconut cream or canned full fat coconut milk *see notes
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
- pinch sea salt
- 8.8 oz strawberries hulled and roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp cornflour sifted
- 3 tbsp water
- Add the cornflour and agar agar powder to a small bowl with 4 tablespoons of the soya milk and stir well. Set aside.
- Add the remaining soya milk and caster sugar to a saucepan on a medium heat and stir for a couple of minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Add the coconut cream, vanilla bean paste and salt to the saucepan and continue to heat until simmering.
- Add the cornflour paste to the saucepan and simmer for another 3-4 minutes, whilst continuously whisking to ensure that it does not burn to the bottom of the pan. The mixture will thicken to a runny custard consistency.
- Pass the mixture through a sieve and distribute it between 4 silicone moulds, or add to serving jars. Allow them to cool to room temperature for about 15 minutes before transferring to the fridge to set for 2 hours.
- Meanwhile follow the instructions to prepare the strawberry coulis. When the panna cotta have set, remove them from their moulds by very gently pushing in the edges of the silicone mould, they should pop out after a little coaxing.
- Mix the cornflour with the water to form a paste and set aside.
- Add the strawberries, caster sugar and lime juice to a saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the mixture to your blender along and blitz for a minute or two until smooth.
- Return the mixture to the pan along with the cornflour paste and simmer for another 2-3 minutes, whilst stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Serve the panna cotta with some strawberry coulis drizzled on top.