This is a practically perfect dessert - it is incredibly simple, delightfully fast, reasonably impressive and
(almost) good for you. (Okay - maybe not quite good for you but at least it isn't bad.) Delicious too, but then it is dessert which is by definition yummy. The first time I made it I followed a recipe, used cream and buttermilk, and couldn't get enough. This last time I didn't have enough cream in the fridge and absolutely not a drop of buttermilk but it was just what I wanted to have for dessert. Coconut milk to the rescue - again.
I have had these lovely little soba cups forever and rarely use them. They are so perfect for panna cotta that they may become "the panna cotta cups" forevermore.
Coconut Milk Panna Cotta
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups coconut milk*
1/3 cup honey
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
pinch of sea salt
2 packets powdered gelatin
6 Tbsp cold water
Heat the cream and honey over medium heat, just until steaming. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla bean and seeds. Cover and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean and reheat the mixture. Add the salt.
Meanwhile sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes or so. Add the gelatin to the cream mixture and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the coconut milk and stir to mix.
Pour the panna cotta mixture into eight custard cups (or ramekins, or tea cups, or something like that) and chill in the fridge until firm - about 2 hours.
To unmold, run the tip of a sharp knife around the edge of the cups to loosen the panna cotta and unmold onto individual plates. Serve with fruit. (I decided to buck tradition and leave the panna cotta in the molds.)
If you have never tried fresh strawberries with balsamic vinegar and black pepper, now would be the perfect time. It certainly is not a new concept but if you haven't tried it, throw caution to the winds and live dangerously. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar and Black Pepper
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Toss the strawberries with the vinegar, honey and pepper. Let stand 30 minutes. Spoon over the panna cotta and serve.
* Once again - the 'fresh' coconut milk from the dairy case.