Sometimes you can’t beat a simple dessert. Panna cotta is just that. Considered a traditional Italian dessert, panna cotta, (which means “cooked cream” in Italian) is a well-known and incredibly popular dessert made of sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and molded. Panna cotta, often referred to as a “sweet custard dessert“, because it’s made from cream, milk and sugar, is one of the most versatile dessert dishes around. Commonly confused with flan (which has an egg custard base), panna cotta (with its gelatin base) is not actually a true “custard” but is actually classified as a pudding.
The origin of panna cotta actually remains relatively uncertain. Many believe this Italian pudding hails from the Langhe area of Piedmont in Northern Italy. Legend has it that a Hungarian lady brought the first recipe over in the early 1900’s. Others believe that it is a local adaption of Sicilian pudding popular in the Middle Ages called Biancomangiare. What we do know is the name panna cotta is not actually mentioned in Italian cookbooks until the 1960’s.
The best part about a panna cotta is how effortless it is to make. Typically served with fresh fruit or berries, this simple, make-ahead chilled dessert is perfect for summertime and gatherings small or large. In this recipe I use a combination of coconut and regular milk to make a rich, flavorful base that has been infused by the addition of shredded coconut and tart Islandic skyr yogurt. The result is a light, smooth, creamy texture. For the topping, I simply combine fresh seasonal mixed berries macerated only slightly. This is a fantastic, simple dessert that will impress just about anyone.
Coconut Milk Panna Cotta
- 3 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 1 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons sweetened flaked coconut
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1/4 cup skyr vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup mixed berries, slightly smashed
- Step 1 In a small bowl add the gelatin and water, mix well and let sit for about 5 minutes. Set aside
- Step 2 In a medium size saucepan, add the coconut milk, milk, sugar, and shredded coconut, place over low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring as needed until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, whisk in the vanilla, coconut extract and the gelatin mixture. Mix well to blend
- Step 3 Place a fine chinois strainer over a medium size mixing bowl and strain the pudding and discarding the solids. Whisk in the yogurt until smooth.
- Step 4 Divide the mixture among four (4-ounce) ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator and allow to set and chill for at least 3 hours.
- Step 5 To serve, slightly macerate the fresh berries by breaking them up with the back of a wooden spoon. Top each panna cotta with a scoop of berries and serve.