Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Strawberry Sauce

I’ve been wanting to make this Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta for a while now. When I first began perusing vegan recipes I came across the ingredient Agar Agar as a substitute for gelatin. Of course, I had to buy this unique ingredient when my favorite store, Echo Hill, suddenly stocked it after I mentioned it once. They offered both the powder & the flakes but as the flakes were much more expensive I, of course, purchased the powder. Then I felt doomed when I went to search for recipes using Agar Agar and found they all called for the flakes.

Until I came across an excerpt in Hannah Kaminsky‘s Vegan Desserts in which she says she prefers to use the powder. HALLELUJAH. I also love her blog Bittersweet – thus why I was checking out her cookbooks. After I made this discovery about Agar Agar powder, I immediately found her recipe for Lemongrass Panna Cotta. Okay, that was it, I was going to make some darn yummy vegan Panna Cotta.

And I did.

This dessert is so simple & elegant. The texture is silky & smooth. The flavor is wonderful and unique. And the strawberry sauce is the perfect compliment with a splash of brightness. It embodies summertime. In your mouth. So I suggest you make it. And then eat it.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Strawberry Sauce

    2 Cans Coconut Milk, Full Fat

2 Vanilla Beans

1/4 Cup Sugar

2 1/2 Tsp Agar Agar Powder

1 Cup Fresh Strawberries, sliced & mashed

1 Vanilla Bean

3 Tbsp Sugar

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

Before you start… You’ll need about 6 5oz dishes or 8 4oz dishes. So maybe get out about 7 ; )

In a small bowl combine your sugar & agar agar thoroughly. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine your coconut milk & the scrapings from your 2 vanilla beans. When the coconut milk is hot add the sugar mixture. Whisk gently & increase heat to high. Bring the coconut milk to a boil while continuing to whisk gently. Boil for about a minute or two.

Pour into various ramekins/small dishes.

Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour before putting in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. If you move the mixture into the cold too soon the mixture could separate.

For the Strawberry Sauce:

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, combine the smashed strawberries, vanilla bean scrapings, sugar & cinnamon. Allow to cook over heat for about 10 minutes until the strawberries completely break down. Stir frequently to prevent it from burning.

Pour evenly on the dishes of chilled panna cotta & serve or return to refrigerator to allow sauce to chill. Whichever you prefer! I served it both ways. I think I prefer the cold.

Don’t forget to serve with spoons ;)

I used the vanilla beans liberally because I bought them in bulk at a very good price. You can substitute a teaspoon or two of pure vanilla extract if you don’t have vanilla beans or don’t want to use 3 in one recipe. I definitely recommend at least one for the panna cotta… the tiny black vanilla bean specks are so wonderful to see!

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9 thoughts on “Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Strawberry Sauce

  1. okay so i have no idea what panna cotta is but you’ve got me drooling! i have been wanting to experiment with agar agar and i think this will be an excellent excuse to try!

    • I always think of Panna Cotta as the Italian version of Flan (sort of). It’s like a custard but with gelatin (or agar agar in the vegan’s case!) instead of eggs. A cross between pudding & jello except not particularly jello-y. You should definitely experiment with agar agar by making panna cotta : ) It turned out even better than I imagined it would!

      • sounds so good! i imagined it being similar to a custard. i can’t wait to give it a go! (ps. your photos here are great, too! i just moved into a house and i was thinking about starting to take my recipe photos out on the new deck and you have confirmed my sneaking suspicion that they would turn out fabulous!)

        • Oh definitely do deck pictures! My boyfriend always makes fun of me for taking my pictures on the arm of the deck but I love the way they turn out. And thanks for the compliment : D
          Also, I’m stalking your blog right now. I love your style!

  2. Vanilla bean is such a beautiful thing! I love puddings and custards and panna cottas. Powdered agar agar is definitely better than the flakes! It dissolves a lot more smoothly and doesn’t require straining.

    • Shwew, I picked the right one. I feel bad for everyone buying the flakes now! Lol. Do you know anything about storing it… is it just shelf stable?

      And I’m glad you love panna cotta & vanilla beans. I love little cookies shaped like tea bags! : )

      • It is shelf stable. I wouldn’t put it in the fridge, because you don’t want any moisture to get in the package.

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