Creamy coconut panna cotta is simple to make. It’s a light, refreshing dessert that’s bursting with coconut flavor.
It seems that panna cotta is often overlooked as a star dessert. Even I am guilty of this as I don’t often think to make panna cotta, maybe because I don’t always have gelatin on hand. Or when I am flipping through cookbooks and scrolling through Instagram feeds for inspiration, it seems as though I come across panna cotta only on occasion.
For such a quick and easy dessert that can accommodate a variety of dietary preferences, panna cotta should shine as a star dessert. It is naturally gluten-free, and it can easily adapt to dairy-free diets as well as vegan diets.
This coconut panna cotta that I am sharing with you today is creamy, refreshing, and bursting with coconut flavor. It’s a one-pot dessert that transforms into delicious individual servings that your family and friends will love.
What is Panna Cotta?
Panna cotta is a molded, chilled Italian dessert. Its exact translation is “cooked cream.” Unlike a custard that’s thickened with eggs, panna cotta is made of a sweetened cream that is thickened with gelatin. Typically, it is served unmolded and drizzled with a sauce or garnished with fruit.
The most basic panna cotta is made with milk, cream, gelatin, and flavorings. The ideal panna cotta has a balance of dairy to gelatin so that the final dessert is set yet still delicate and slightly jiggly.
Before you begin
Take out the following baking equipment:
Digital kitchen scale
1 small bowl
1 medium saucepan
6 ramekins or serving dishes
Read the recipe through from start to finish.
As mentioned above, what separates panna cotta from custards is the use of gelatin as a thickening agent. Working with gelatin isn’t difficult. Because it can’t be added directly into a recipe like other ingredients, gelatin needs to be combined with water first to ‘bloom’ (hydrate) the tiny grains of gelatin.
Heavy cream adds a richness and creaminess to this coconut panna cotta. If you do not have heavy cream on hand or would prefer to lighten the dessert, you can substitute half and half or milk.
Coconut is the star of the show in this dessert. Use canned coconut milk for this recipe. If the canned coconut contains emulsifiers, you can add the milk directly to the recipe. If the coconut milk has separated into two layers, then whisk until it comes together before adding to the mixture.
How to make coconut panna cotta
Begin with making the coconut cream mixture. In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut milk, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt over medium-high heat. You want to heat the mixture until it is hot, but not simmering. High heat can affect gelatin’s strength. Once the milk is hot, remove from the heat.
While heating the milk, sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and lightly stir. Allow the mixture to stand until softened for about 2 minutes. The mixture will become an applesauce-like consistency. Add the ‘bloomed’ gelatin to the milk mixture and whisk until dissolved.
Evenly divide the panna cotta between your serving dishes. Cover and refrigerate until the desserts have set. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Tips and takeaways
- The gelatin will begin to work quickly once you add it to the milk mixture. Have your serving containers or molds ready so that your panna cotta does not begin to set up in the saucepan.
- You can certainly use molds for your panna cotta. Once the dessert has set, dip the molds, one at a time, into a bowl filled halfway with hot water. Allow the panna cotta to sit in the water for about 5 minutes. Turn the mold onto a serving plate and shake slightly to loosen.
- Be inspired to dress up this dessert. Toasted coconut adds a beautiful garnish in color and texture. If you’d like, you could also add some tropical fruit for color and Caribbean inspiration.
More individual desserts
- Blood orange panna cotta
- No-bake cherry cheesecake parfaits
- Strawberry cheesecake mousse
- S’more crème brûlée
Make sure to tag me @thesweetoccasion on Instagram and leave me a review below if you make this Coconut Panna Cotta. I’d love to see your creations and read your feedback. And if you would like to make this recipe later, be sure to pin this recipe using the button on any of these images. Let’s make every occasion, a sweet occasion!Print