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!