Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Coconut Panna Cotta

I made this for dessert on Christmas; we needed a light dessert after all the chocolate, egg nog, and gingerbread goodness that was being consumed. This is SUPER EASY!!! It originally came from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson.
We served it after a pretty rich dinner: crown of lamb, roasted garlic potatoes, Brussels sprouts with bacon and a green salad (arugula, blue cheese, walnuts). We served it with Asti spumante; Martinelli's would work well too. I made the crackers a week in advance and they kept nicely in a tupperware.
for the panna cotta:
1(14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 1/4 cups whole or 2% milk
1/3 cup natural cane sugar (I used 1/4 cup and it was fine)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Agar Agar flakes or 3/4 teaspoon agar powder (I used the flakes)

Lightly oil 6 ramekins and set aside. Place coconut milk, milk, sugar and agar flakes in a pan. Stir, then let rest for 10 minutes to allow the agar to soften and start to dissolve (this is critical or you get agar clumps, which are fine but the overall effect is more like tapioca than panna cotta). Very slowly, bring ingredients to a gentle simmer and simmer a few minutes until the agar is incorporated. If it doesn't completely dissolve, pour the mixture through a strainer, pushing the undissolved agar through as well. Pour into the ramekins and chill until set, about an hour.

for the coulis:
1/4 cup natural cane sugar (Florida Crystals or other light, organic whole cane sugar)
2 cups berries (I used frozen raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)
juice of 1/2 a lemon

Combine the berries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Mash the berries a little with the back of a spoon and chill.

for the cracker toppers:
1 package of 6-inch Wonton wrappers
1/4 cup natural cane sugar (Florida Crystals)
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger (Penzey's)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, fine-grained
1/4 cup assorted seeds (sesame, white and black, fennel, poppy, cracked cardamom, caraway)
1 egg
1 tiny splash heavy cream (or yogurt or milk)
cookie cutters, smallish, like 2-inch diameter

Preheat the oven to 350 F, position racks in the middle and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment or a silpat.

Combine sugar, ginger, and salt in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk egg and cream together. Cut the wonton wrappers into various shapes, pressing down hard and cleanly cutting. I used a soft towel under the surface of the wonton to get my lame plastic cookie cutters from like 1982 to work. Brush the wonton shapes with a thin glaze of the egg mixture. Sprinkle each with seeds, and a generous dusting of the sugar mixture. Keep it all sort of in the middle, so you can see the cookie edges a bit.

Move the wontons into a single layer on the baking sheets and bake until the wontons are golden and crisp, 5-8 minutes. They go from not done to burnt really fast, watch 'em.

For the presentation: just turn the ramekins over on a plate, pour a little coulis on top, and stick a few crackers in the panna cotta.

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