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Coconut Panna Cotta

coconut milk

If you missed my love fest the other day about panna cotta, get ready for it.

Panna cotta sounds all fancy and complicated, right? That’s the thing – it’s a dessert that takes 5 minutes to prepare. It’s so easy and doesn’t call for a ton of weird ingredients.

coconut panna cotta

I’m pretty sure panna cotta is Italian for “ridiculously easy and delicious.”

Okay, it’s actually not; panna cotta really just means “cooked cream.” Which brings me to my next point: why is it that European desserts sound so gorgeous in other languages but actually kind of gross in the original? Panna cotta and crème brûlée are two of the best desserts ever, but if a waiter asked me whether I prefered the cooked cream or the burned cream, I’d be hard pressed to make a decision.

coconut milk pudding

When I posted my Simple and Perfect Panna Cotta the other day, a dairy-free friend asked me if she could use soy, almond, or coconut milk instead of the half and half that the recipe calls for. I knew that soy and almond milks don’t have enough fat to make a nice consistency, but since canned almond milk is one of the best things ever, I thought that would be a winner for sure.

My husband tried some when I was out yesterday, and he texted me to say that it was “amazing.” He brought it up again several hours later and said that the panna cotta was “seriously perfect.”

Coconut panna cotta. Yes, please.

coconut milk desserts

5 minutes. 5 ingredients. And you’re on your way to tropical, fruity dessert bliss.

Yield: 4 servings, but doubles easily

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours chill time

Total Time: just over 4 hours

Coconut Panna Cotta

This dairy free alternative to traditional panna cotta is every bit as delicious. Full of coconut flavor, it's a great way to highlight tropical, summer fruit.


1 can of full fat coconut milk

2 T. + 2 t. sugar*

3 T. cold water

2 t. gelatin, leveled off

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract



1. In a bowl or large measuring cup, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Let it dissolve and thicken while you prepare the milk mixture.

2. In a saucepan, dissolve the sugar into the coconut milk, stirring frequently. The liquid should get very warm but nowhere near a boil.

3. Stir the vanilla extract into the coconut milk, and then pour the milk mixture into the gelatin, whisking well to make sure the gelatin is fully incorporated. Don't whisk too vigorously, though - you don't want to make lots of foam.

4. Pour the liquid into ramekins, tea cups, wine or martini glasses, or whatever you'd like to serve the panna cotta in. Alternatively, you can lightly oil a container and unmold the panna cotta after it firms up. Pop it in the fridge and wait about 4 hours (or overnight).

5. Top with fresh fruit like mango, pineapple, or strawberries and call it a day, or dress it up with a fun reduction or homemade fruit syrup. It's also delicious with a squeeze of lime in top.

*I tested my regular panna cotta recipe with honey instead of refined sugar. It worked well, but I didn't like the flavor as much.

coconut milk




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