It's been a while since I last joined Abby's monthly Baketogethers and this Panna Cotta recipe that she posted for this August's Baketogether was impossible to miss out on because of how easy it is to make--just as easy as making Jell-o in a cup! One of the things I like about making Panna Cotta is the zero oven time required to whip this up thus avoiding the unpleasantness of being trapped in a very warm kitchen. Another thing I like about this dessert is that despite its simple ingredients and utterly uncomplicated method, with the right sauce and flavorings, it could be just as rich and satisfying as any of its yolky and custardy, oven-baked counterparts. The creamy base of the Panna Cotta is really the perfect vessel for holding whatever flavors your heart desires and it pairs really well with almost any sweet liquid addition--my favorite being fruit sauces-- which really makes it the ideal dessert to make for a #Baketogether where everyone joining in is welcome to create their own twist to a particular recipe.
Since I've been craving for a creamy coconut dessert lately, I decided to turn Abby's Panna Cotta recipe into a coconut-flavored version by replacing the recipe's ricotta and water with coconut milk and heavy cream and making it even more tropical by adding mangoes in two forms-- 1) as chunky bits that get suspended inside the cream once it firms up and 2) as a thick sauce that's delightfully flavored with rum which you can serve either warm or chilled. I particularly like it served warm because the sauce seems to have a more enhanced mango flavor and I also happen to love the contrast of eating a very chilled custard with a warm fruity sauce. I must say that this coconut and mango version was so good that I ate the 2 cups (in a span of 2 days) out of the 3 that I ended up making with this recipe. Next time, I would put these in much smaller containers so I could at least make double.
Coconut Milk Panna Cotta with Warm Mango-Rum Coulis
For the Panna Cotta
1 cup canned coconut milk (Thai)
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
3/4 cup heavy cream plus 1/4 cup reserved in a glass measuring cup to bloom gelatin
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch table salt
1 large mango deseeded and flesh cut into cubes (size depends on how you want it)
For the Warm (or not) Mango-Rum Coulis
2 large mangoes deseeded and flesh chopped into small cubes
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch table salt
Fan-sliced mango flesh for garnish
To make the Panna Cotta:
1. Have ready 3 to 6 dessert glasses or bowls and make room in the fridge.
2. Put the 1/4 cup heavy cream in a 1 cup Pyrex measure and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Set aside to soften. In the meantime, fill a small sauce pan with water to about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom. Place the pan on your stovetop and bring the water to a boil then lower heat to a simmer. Once the gelatin has absorbed all the water and looks plump, place the Pyrex cup directly into the simmering water and mix with a metal spoon until the gelatin is melted. Alternatively, microwave briefly until it is melted about 1 minute.
3. Put the coconut milk, 3/4 cup heavy cream, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in a large bowl. Using a wire whisk, add the gelatin mixture to the cream and mix until well incorporated. Place a fine mesh sieve on top of a large cup or jug with a narrow opening and pass all of the cream mixture though it. This will remove any hardened bits of gelatin if there are any.
4. Pour the mixture into prepared glasses or bowls, dividing it evenly and leaving enough space at the tops for the coulis. Cover the tops with plastic and refrigerate for about 25 minutes. After this time, open the plastic cover and drop in a few pieces of the cubed mangoes inside each glass then cover again and let set, about 4 hours or up to a day before serving.
To make the coulis:
1. Put the chopped mangoes, rum, lemon juice, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until smooth and well-blended. Taste and add more sugar or rum accordingly. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve over a small bowl or 2-cup measure. If you like to serve this warm, microwave on high for about 5 to 10 seconds then pour the sauce over the chilled panna cotta. You can also heat the sauce gently in a saucepan over low fire until warm. If you want the sauce chilled just cover the container and refrigerate until ready.
Pour the coulis over the panna cotta then top with a few slices of mangoes for garnish. Serve the rest of the sauce on the side.
Everyone is welcome to join Abby's monthly #Baketogethers and if you want to do your own twist to this Panna Cotta, head on over to Abby's page to get the original recipe!