Saturday, 25 June 2016

Vegetarian Panna Cotta

The secret to good panna cotta is powdered agar-agar. Agar-agar is a gelling agent derived from algae (usually seaweed). You can also use gelatin, though gelatin is made from animal parts and can also be tricky to work with.

Here is my formula; scale it down if you want a smaller quantity. Some recipes substitute milk for some of the cream.
  • 1 litre milk
  • 300–400ml sugar, depending how sweet you like your dessert
  • 5ml (level teaspoon) agar-agar powder (you can use flakes but the quantity is much harder to measure)
  • half a vanilla bean
Split and scrape the half vanilla bean into the sugar in a saucepan and add the agar-agar. Mix thoroughly so the agar-agar is evenly distributed and won’t form lumps. Mix in the cream and heat to boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2–3 minutes.

Panna Cotta Moulds – I ordered a set like this
and will update the article to review them.
Leave to cool, then remove the vanilla bean pod and decant into 6–8 moulds. Chill for at least 2 hours to set.

If you can find a mould with a removable end (see picture) so the panna cotta can be pushed out from the smaller end of the mould, it should be easy to unmould.

Applying heat to loosen it from the mould is tricky – you can easily end up unsetting the contents; if you are less concerned with being fancy, set it in the serving bowl.

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