April is one of my favorite times of the year. Do you know why? Seattle Restaurant Week. Also known as “A Frugal Seattle Foodie’s Chance to Feast at High-End Restaurants”. Three-course dinners for 28 bucks? Sign me up. It’s like getting an appetizer and dessert at these restaurants FO’ FREE.
This time around, I went to a restaurant of Tom Douglas, one of Seattle’s prominent restauranteurs, called Palace Kitchen and a seafood restaurant called The Flying Fish. At both restaurants, I chose panna cotta for dessert, a dessert that I’ve never tried before. Palace Kitchen’s version was a malted chocolate panna cotta served with cookies and hot fudge. The Flying Fish version was a vanilla bean panna cotta with strawberry mango syrup. This dessert is very popular on SRW menus, probably because it is so versatile and is one of the easiest desserts ever, with only a few ingredients and little technique. The only key is finding a recipe with the right gelatin to cream ratio. To get a softer, pudding-like texture, you will need to use less gelatin. For a firmer set, use more gelatin. For you scientists out there, it’s just like making a 5% versus 10% agarose gel for electrophoresis. Except it tastes better (I’m assuming) and it’s sans ethidium bromide so it won’t give you cancer. Win! Since I like the less-firm set, I found the appropriate ratio to be about 4 cups cream/milk to 1 tbsp of gelatin. But you can always experiment, of course:)
I experimented with flavors and made a coconut lavender variety. It’s light and floral. Perfect for spring, eh?
Coconut Lavender Panna Cotta (Vegan)
Makes 4-6 servings, Total Prep Time: 4 hours
- 2 cups coconut cream
- 1 1/2 tsp gelatin (use an equal amount of agar-agar powder or a kosher gelatin for a vegan recipe)
- 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp dried edible lavender
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 4-6 ramekins, lightly greased
- In a small bowl, mix gelatin and cold water together and let it sit for approximately 5 minutes.
- In a saucepan, heat the coconut cream, sugar, and lavender together over medium heat, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. This allows the lavender to infuse into the coconut cream and for the sugar to completely dissolve. Avoid letting the mixture boil.
- Add the gelatin/water mixture to the cream and heat for about 2-3 more minutes, constantly stirring and making sure the gelatin is completely dissolved.
- Take the mixture off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Pour the mixture into the lightly greased ramekins. You can also strain the mixture first if you want to get rid of the lavender, depending on how potent your lavender is. Allow the ramekins to cool to room temperature, then cover and let them set in the fridge for at least 3 hours. The mixture will still be runny at room temp FYI.
- When ready to serve, let the ramekin sit in a bowl of hot water for about 20-30 seconds and run a knife around the edges. Flip the panna cotta onto a fancy plate and serve! I garnished with some honey (agave syrup, if vegan) and lavender buds.