This creamy vegan panna cotta is super easy to make and all you need is coconut milk, cashews, sugar and agar. Add flavourings to this basic recipe to match your dinner!
Asian vegan panna cotta or agar pudding?
This dessert is named panna cotta, but actually it’s agar pudding. I use agar agar (thickener made of algae) instead of gelatine. Just like panna cotta, agar pudding is made by binding a warm, flavourful liquid and letting it stiffen up in the fridge.
The traditional panna cotta is bound with gelatine and the agarpudding with agar agar, a vegetable thickener, and therefore suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
For this recipe I use powdered agar agar. You can also get them in flakes or strips but they are more difficult to dissolve. And even more difficult to weigh accurately.
Agar powder is soaked briefly in water and then boiled along with what you want to bind. In this case the coconut milk and homemade cashew cream.
Creamy vegan panna cotta versus firm agar pudding
My first agar pudding was presented to me by my mother: a substance that was so tightly bound that you could cut it into wedges and pierce it with your fork. After one bite I left the remaining wedges on the plate.
“Agar is rich in fibre and good for bones and brains. No need to explain that Chinese mothers are generous with the agar agar.”
The strange thing is that I put an authentic Chinese agar pudding on the first menu of our restaurant.
A lady returned the dessert menu without ordering and said: “I know the Chinese can’t make desserts.” I smiled. Like a farmer with toothache, the Dutch would say.
In general, Chinese desserts are less sweet, lighter and healthier (lots of legumes, seeds and no cream), but boring because they lack contrast in texture and flavour.
I wanted to stay true to the healthy Chinese dessert tradition and at the same time make guests happy.
This vegan panna cotta has enough creaminess for western taste buds and is light and low in sugar to please Chinese health freaks.
Basic recipe with 4 ingredients
- Coconut milk
- Colourless agar powder (for sale in Asian supermarkets or in health food stores)
- Cashew nuts (or replace with more coconut milk or vegan cream if you are allergic to nuts)
“These ingredients have a long shelf life. Keep them in your cupboard, and you can make the panna cotta any time.
All four ingredients go into the pan, cook for a few minutes until the agar agar is dissolved and you can pour the panna cotta into a bowl or molds. Easy, isn’t it?
Additional flavourings? How about a creamy cardamom orange panna cotta with chocolate syrup? Or keep the recipe neutral (maybe just a little vanilla extract and a pinch of salt) and eat it with mango and chopped mint.
There are many flavourings possible. Remember that some ingredients (such as lemongrass, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon) need to be cooked along with the mixture. Other more delicate flavourings (such as leaves of herbs, matcha and lime zest) are only added after the heat source has been turned off.
Don’t have any inspiration for your own version of the panna cotta yet? Here’s my recipe for lemongrass panna cotta with sweet, fragrant sauce of osmanthus flowers. The fresh and sweet flavours are delicious after an extensive Chinese dinner!
LIKE THIS CREAMY VEGAN PANNA COTTA RECIPE? TRY MY VEGAN 4-INGREDIENTS COOKIES AS WELL!Print
Creamy Vegan Panna Cotta With four Ingredients
This dessert is easy to make and all you need is coconut milk, cashews, sugar and agar. The creamy vegan panna cotta does not taste strongly of coconut or cashew nuts but neutral like a non-vegan panna cotta. And the flavour is up to you!
- Prep Time: 8
- Cook Time: 7
- Total Time: 15
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Dessert / sweet
- Method: cooking
- 375 g/ 400 ml/ 1 can of coconut milk 1
- 1 g / 1/4 tsp of colourless agar powder and 30 gr. water 2
- 30 g unroasted and unsalted cashew nuts and 100 gr. water 3
- 25 g light palm sugar or regular sugar
- 10 g lime or lemon juice (about ½ lime/ lemon)
- 22 g lemongrass, bruised (2 thin stems)
- 2 lime leaves, torn
- Pinch of salt 4
- 1 tbsp dried osmanthus flowers 5
- 1 tbsp hot water
- 2 tbsp lime or lemon juice
- 2 tbsp agave or maple syrup (or honey if you do not eat vegan.)
- (Hand) blender (not necessary if you replace the cashew nuts and 100 grams of water with (coconut) cream.)
- 4 ramekins or glasses (at least 100 ml content)
- Neutral oil (to grease the ramekins if you want to serve the panna cotta on plates)
- Grease the bowls with neutral oil if you want to serve the panna cotta on plates.
- Put the ingredients for the panna cotta, without the flavourings, in a pan. Puree for 2 minutes (longer if necessary) until everything is smooth. Puréeing is not necessary if you replace the cashew nuts and 100 grams of water with 130 grams of regular cream. Or coconut cream if you want a strong coconut flavour.
- Put the suggested or your own flavourings in the pan and heat slowly. Stir regularly and scrape anything that sticks to the rim of the pan back into the pan with a scraper.
- Turn the heat source to the lowest setting when the mixture is almost boiling (you will see steam and small bubbles).
- Keep stirring for about 5 minutes (or longer if necessary) until the agar powder is completely dissolved. You should have about 400 ml of liquid left.
- Sieve the seasonings (if added) from the panna cotta.
- Pour immediately into the 4 glasses or bowls. Beat each one on the table to beat the bubbles out of the panna cotta.
- Cool down until lukewarm and cover with foil before leaving it in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
- Serve the panna cotta in the bowls. Do you want to serve them on plates? Put a sharp knife close to the edge of a bowl to get some air between the bowl and panna cotta. Place a plate on the bowl and turn the bowl over. The panna cotta will come loose. If not, shake gently back and forth.
Lemon- osmanthus sauce:
- Mix all the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside until the panna cotta can be served. The osmanthus needs at least an hour to give off its flavour and colour.
- For a creamy panna cotta, use the regular coconut milk with at least 60% coconut extract. The light version gives a more jelly-like texture. I used 70% extract for this recipe.
- Buy colourless agar powder at the Asian grocery store or health food store.
- NUTS FREE: replace the cashews and 100 g water with 130 g of dairy-free cream
- Pinch of salt provides more depth to the panna cotta flavour.
- Dried osmanthus can be purchased at the Asian grocery shop.
Keywords: Sweet, dessert, easy, creamy, panna cotta, agar, 4 ingredients, vegan, vegetarian