Saturday, March 5, 2011

Coconut Cardamom Panna Cotta

I bought me some agar flakes months ago, thinking, "Surely this is a necessary component in the well-stocked kitchen!"  Agar is very exciting.  It comes from algae and is actually superior to gelatin in other ways than its mere veganocity: for one, it seems that agar has a higher melting point.  And of course, it's also way more fun to say.

I proceeded to not touch my new agar at all.  What could you use it for, besides the ubiquitous kanten, a sort of fruit-juice jello?

Then, weirdly, two similar recipes came my way nearly simultaneously.  Panna cotta, formerly doubly unvegan (cream and gelatin), here appears in the form of coconut milk and agar.  Genius!  It's aromatic and rich, yet also refreshing, a great finish to this spicy and hearty meal.

I went off this recipe from hot knives, but I omitted the vanilla beans and long pepper in favor of cardamom and vanilla extract.  I'd also like to try this other recipe, which uses ginger tea and cinnamon.

Coconut Cardamom Panna Cotta
(adapted from hot knives)

1.5 c coconut milk
little sploosh vanilla extract
a sprinkle of cardamom
1/2 c honey (or agave)
4 g agar agar (about a tablespoon? maybe less?  I just winged it)
1 c water
cinnamon and cayenne for dusting (optional)

1. In a saucepan over low heat, combine coconut milk, vanilla, cardamom, and honey.  Mix well, then remove from heat and cool.
2. In a saucepan, heat the cup of water on high heat until it boils.  Reduce the heat to just below a boiling point, and add the agar while stirring rapidly. Agar melts at a very high temperature, but if you boil it you’ll lose some of the water you're melting it into (which will offset the ratio). If you have powder, add it all at once and stir until it seems to have melted/dissolved into the water. If you have sticks, break them off into little chunks (you can jam them in a food processor to make it quick) and do the same.
3. Combine the hot agar gel with the coconut milk and whisk thoroughly. Dump equal servings (about 1/4 cup) into each serving vessel, and place in the fridge to cool. Depending on your fridge temp; this should take not much longer than 30-60 minutes.  If desired, before serving, dust with cayenne and cinnamon.  Makes about 8-12 small servings.  


From a few days ago: this sunset --

...was reflected in and merged with some other celestial pyrotechnics.


Unknown said...

Hi Julia, it's Howard, your old roomie's friend. I just wanted to say, although I'm not a vegan convert, I have been enjoying your recipes! Some I cook, some I just enjoy vicariously through your photos. At the very least, I am now constructing the occasional veg-only meal, and don't miss the meat when I do. I'm an especially big fan of simply roasted vegetables.

So, thanks for your blog, and please, keep it up!

Julia said...

Hey Howard,
Thanks for the comment! I'm surprised and flattered that you've been reading. I hope you're doing well. :)