Soy Milk Panna Cotta with Blackberries, Raspberries, Grapes, Apricot and Blackberry Sauces
Soy Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries and Two Sauces
I recently decided to learn more about presentation, and got two books by vegan chefs to work my way through. Here is my first attempt. It’s actually a pretty simple pudding made elegant with agar agar and two simple sauces, plus fresh fruit.
Panna Cotta comes from Italy originally, but from there it has become widely diverse. I have seen Panna Cotta with fruit from mangosteen to raspberries, plus chocolate and caramel sauces.
The beauty of this dessert lies in the agar agar making the pudding stiff. It looks elegant, but it is pretty low fat.
I recommend using a vanilla bean if you can afford it, for the more intense vanilla flavor, but also for the little black specks in the pudding and apricot sauce.
I used soy milk, as this was my first attempt, but i plan to try almond milk. Now that i see how easy it is, i think any vegan milk would do.
I actually got the fruit for this twice. Last week i got too busy to experiment, and i ate the fruit before it went bad, so i got it all again – luckily raspberries and blackberries are in season, and are not too dear. But it’s all for a good cause.
Last night i made the blackberry sauce and went to put it in the freezer to cool quickly for dinner. It slid off the shelf and the bowl shattered and the blackberry sauce went everywhere! After i cleaned it all up, i made the sauce again, but this time i just put it in the refrigerator in a jar until today.
Makes 4 servings
Preparation about 1 hour, divided
Panna Cotta keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of days
4 c. vegan milk
2/3 c. refined sugar
1 vanilla bean or 2 t. vanilla extract
4 t. powdered agar agar (not flakes)
6 oz. fresh blackberries (about 1 c.)
2 T. refined sugar
¼ c. apricot jam (sugar free if possible)
1 c. white grape juice or sweet white wine
½ vanilla bean or 1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. fresh blackberries
1 c. fresh blueberries
1 c. fresh raspberries
½ c. seedless grapes
Make the pudding:
Have ready ramekins or small bowls that will give a nice shape to the finished pudding.
Measure the vegan milk and sugar into a heavy medium pan. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and stir in well. A whisk makes short work of this. Add the bean to further flavor the pudding and heat to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently.
Sprinkle the agar agar a teaspoon at a time and stir in well after each teaspoon. Stir until it boils, then boil and stir two minutes. The mixture will be thin.
Scoop out the vanilla bean, or strain it out, if it isn’t all in one piece.
Pour the pudding into the ramekins. You can measure ½ c. if you want to have them all the same. Cool at least 2 hours. The pudding should be quite firm.
Make the blackberry sauce:
After you get the pudding squared away, make the sauces, as they need to cool too.
Crush the blackberries and 2 T. sugar in a small saucepan with a fork. You have to press pretty hard to get the juice out. Make sure the sugar is all dissolved. Let this sit at least 10 minutes.
Then put the mixture on the stove and stir and simmer about 5 minutes, until there are several tablespoons of juice in the pan.
Make the Apricot Sauce:
Meanwhile, heat the apricot jam and grape juice/wine with ½ scraped vanilla bean, stirring constantly until it is smooth. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and take out or strain out the vanilla bean, and chill at least 2 hours.
Assembling or plating the Panna Cotta:
Put each ramekin of chilled pudding into a bowl of warm water that will heat the pudding but not flow over the top. Count slowly to 5. Dry off the ramekin and invert it over the center of the plate or bowl you will be using. Be sure the bowl is big enough for the presentation of fruit and sauce around the edges. If the pudding stubbornly won’t come out, run a sharp knife, or, ideally, a small icing offset metal spatula carefully around the edge. Invert again, and maybe tap it a little. Repeat if necessary.
Spoon the apricot sauce around the edges of the pudding, using about ¼ of the sauce.
Spoon the blackberry sauce along one side of the pudding, on top of the apricot sauce.
Arrange the berries and grapes on top of the pudding and sprinkle a few in the sauce if you want, but you want the sauce to show clearly.
Carry carefully to the table. Accept accolades.
Adapted from Great Chefs Cook Vegan by Linda Long