Vegan Panna Cotta with Blueberry-Balsamic Compote
Earlier this summer, I fell in love with panna cotta. Panna cotta is like creme brulee’s country cousin; it’s still a creamy, pudding-like dream, but it doesn’t require eggs. It’s thickened, instead, with gelatin. Now, gelatin makes me a little nervous. I’m unsure where exactly it comes from, and how it’s made, and it’s definitely NOT vegetarian. There is, however, a vegetarian substitute called agar-agar, that’s made with seaweed.
So, I thought I’d try a vegan panna cotta, made with coconut milk and agar-agar, and after a couple of experiments where I didn’t get the ratios right, I finally hit the mark!
This is a very basic, sweet panna cotta. I’m experimenting with a savory version for the fall, but for now, let’s stick to the basics. You could put anything involving fruit on top of this. Whatever you have lying around in fridge or freezer–any berries would be delicious, stewed up with a little sugar (or maple syrup, agave or honey) and water.
I, however, received a bottle of chocolate balsamic vinegar for my birthday, and I was determined to incorporate it into something more interesting than a salad dressing. What more perfect pairing than blueberries?
So, here you go! Dig deep and enjoy!
Vegan Panna Cotta With Blueberry-Balsamic-Compote
For the panna cotta:
- 1 can coconut milk (400 mls)
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla or vanilla bean paste
- 3/4 tsp agar-agar
- 1 tbsp cold water
- In a small bowl, place the tablespoon of cold water, then sprinkle the agar-agar in a layer over top. Allow it to sit for a few minutes.
- In a medium saucepan, place the coconut milk and the sugar. Heat gently just until warm and the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour a couple of tablespoons of the hot coconut milk into the bowl with the agar-agar, and stir well. Add it slowly back into the pot, whisking the whole time. Heat for another 5 minutes, until the milk is steaming, but don’t let it boil. Add the vanilla at the end.
- Divide between 4 containers. I’ve used mason jars, ramekins, martini glasses, juice glasses or teacups. Refrigerate until set.
For the compote:
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar
- In a small saucepan, combine all three ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes or so. I use a potato masher on the blueberries to break them up and thicken them a little, you could use an immersion blender if you wanted your compote to be really smooth. I like mine a little chunky. Cook until it is thickened. You’ll know it’s done when you draw a line on the back of a spoon, and it holds.
- Spoon a couple tablespoons of the compote over the set panna cotta. Refrigerate for at least a half hour more, then serve.