Thursday, February 20, 2014

Coconut Panna-Cotta with Blueberry Red-Wine Sauce

Ok, I know what you're thinking.  "Wow, that sounds fancy! And too complicated/time-consuming to bother with actually making..."  

To answer that:  yes, it sounds fancy.  No, it's really not too complicated or time-consuming to bother making.   And so impressive!  Especially if you serve it in fancy-pants champagne flutes. The panna cotta actually is made ahead of time, since it needs to chill, so you can make this the day before a nice dinner and pull these luxurious desserts out of the fridge with a flourish (do you know how to pull
something out of the fridge with a flourish?  I'm not sure I know how to do anything with a flourish - but it sounded good) and everyone at the table will be awed by it's gorgeousness and delectableness.  Yes, I just made up that word.

So, here's one for your recipe box for those times you want something a little elegant, a little fancy, a lot yummy.  And plus you get to sound like a michelin star chef when you casually tell people that you are serving "coconut panna cotta with a lovely blueberry and red wine reduction sauce".

By the way, panna cotta is an italian dessert made by simmering together milk, cream and sugar; then adding gelatin and letting cool til it sets.  (Basically it's a super rich and deliciously creamy jello.)  A reduction sauce is made by letting a liquid simmer until a lot of the water in the liquid has evaporated so the flavors become more intense and the sauce becomes less watery and a little more syrup-like. 

I originally found this recipe over at Sprinkle Bakes, which is a lovely blog, by the way, if you haven't heard of it already.  I have tweaked the recipe a bit to my liking, but definitely her original recipe.

Ok, you wanna make some panna cotta?  Here we go...

The Step-By-Step

Make and Chill the Panna Cotta

First gently sprinkle the envelope of gelatin over 1/4 cup of the cream.  (By the way, if you just can't stomach using heavy cream, you can substitute half and half in this recipe.)  Let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Whisk it together a bit.  It's going to end up being pretty lumpy.  Don't be scared.  It'll all be ok.  I promise.

Now.  In a medium saucepan, simmer together the rest of the cream, plus the sugar and salt.  

Add vanilla and coconut extracts.  Did anyone else used to put drops of vanilla extract on their wrists as a kid just so that you could smell it all day whenever you wanted?  No? Just me?  Ok then....

Now add the lumpy gelatin mixture and the coconut milk.  Keep whisking over low heat until all those lumps dissolve.  

At this point, you are supposed to strain the whole mixture through a fine mesh sieve.  I have done that, and I have also skipped that step.  For best results, I recommend to go ahead and strain it.  It's still good without straining, but not perfect.

Now pour this mixture into whatever containers you are going to use.  If you'd like to really go crazy, you can use greased ramekins and then flip them over once gelled, but I think using the champagne flutes look better and are less hassle anyway.  Score.  

Carefully place these in your overcrowded fridge to chill for a couple of hours or overnight.

Make the reduction sauce

Put the wine and the sugar for the sauce into a small saucepan.

Simmer the heck out of it.  You want it on medium-low heat and you want it to simmer long enough that it has reduced by half.  It should get a little thicker as it reduces.

Add the jelly and the blueberries.  These are fresh, but you can use frozen if you want (drain the juice off first).  Simmer some more.  

Cook until the sauce is on the syrup-y side and the berries are tender.  (The sauce will thicken a tad bit more as it cools).  And then take it off the heat and let it cool.

Take your chilled and set panna cottas , and divide the berry sauce between them. (Don't add the sauce if the panna cotta is still runny!)  Put the desserts back in the fridge until your are ready to serve.

Voila!  Gorgeous and delicious dessert fit for any company, the queen included, or just to treat yourself.

The Recipe    

Original Recipe adapted from Sprinkle Bakes


2 cups heavy cream (or substitute half-and-half)
1 package plain gelatin
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (I recommend not using lite)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons coconut extract

Place 1/4 cup of the cream in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the packet of gelatin over the top.  Let it sit for 5 minutes, then whisk gently.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining cream, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the extracts.  Now whisk in the coconut milk and the gelatin mixture, until the gelatin lumps have mostly all dissolved.  Strain with a fine mesh sieve.  Pour into champagne flutes (or other serving container).  Leave room on the top for the sauce.  Chill in refrigerator 2 hours or overnight.


1 1/3 cup red wine
3/4 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons seedless berry jelly (black raspberry,  blackberry or even grape will work)
1 cup blueberries (if using frozen or canned, make sure they are thawed, rinsed and drained)

Bring the wine and sugar to a boil in a saucepan.  Cook until reduced by half.  Add the jelly and stir until melted.  Add the berries and cook until they are soft, but not turning to mush.  Once the sauce is cooled down, add on top of the panna cottas.

Chill until ready to serve.