Panna cotta, or cooked cream in Italian, is a super simple, but delicious dessert. Our vegan take on it uses coconut milk in place of the cream, and agar agar powder in place of the usual gelatin. This recipe is quite basic, so feel free to get creative with flavoring (maybe some cardamom or lemon zest, or even chocolate!). Other toppings, like fresh berries, are also fun to experiment with.
Coconut Milk Panna Cotta with Poached Pears
Note that while the preparation is quick, the panna cotta does have to set for a few hours in the refrigerator, so prepare well ahead of dessert time.
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon agar agar powder (we used NOW Foods Brand Agar Powder)
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Pears
- 1 large pear, not too soft, seeds removed and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 cloves
- 1 cardamom pod, cracked open
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Add coconut milk and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Lower heat to simmer, and whisk in the agar agar powder. Continue to simmer and whisk for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract, and pour into ramekins or other small heat-resistant bowls. Let cool on the counter for about 20 minutes, then refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
For the Pears
- In a large skillet, bring the water to a boil and dissolve the sugar in it.
- Add the pear slices and spices, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes until the pears are soft.
- Remove from heat, add lemon juice, and let cool. Save in an airtight container until you’re ready to use them.