I’ve been on quite the mango kick this summer. First there were Sour Mango Smoothies and Salted Mango Popsicles and now I’ve added this Coconut Mango Panna Cotta to my summer creations. Which is a little funny, because I’m not usually one for sweets or smoothies.
But the mangoes have just been so fantastically wonderful this year. Super sweet, with a hint of musk and a fragrant softness, the kind of fruit that you find yourself hunched over the kitchen sink eating, juices running to your elbows.
Normally that’s me with summer peaches, one of the few fruits I really get excited about, but this year I couldn’t find a decent peach for love nor money. If I had a dollar for every dry, tasteless, too-hard stone fruit I’d tried this summer, I’d probably be half way to Vegas by now.
(I tried out something a little different, photography-wise this week. I figured if there was a time to bust out of my comfort zone when it comes to styling, a pretty dessert like this was it! While I’ve kept to my usual punchy colors and clean lines, this week I’ve hammed it up on the more girly side with dinky little thrift store tea cups and an abundance of greenery and lilies.
I always feel a little self conscious about adding things to my images that wouldn’t make complete sense on a normal table, so adding flowers to the styling mix like this is definitely out of my zone! But, I figured, if there was any place a big, glorious set of tropical flowers and lush leaves would make sense, it would be paired with a summery coconut and mango treat, right? Whaddya think?)
So, Coconut Mango Panna Cotta. This is the kind of dessert that is right up my alley. No cook — because warming coconut milk doesn’t count! — creamy, fruity and simple as all get out. No baking, weighing, rolling, kneading or fiddly bits required. When fruit is as decadently delicious as it gets, there’s really no need to gussy it up too much.
In this case, your mango is crucial. You want to pick the ripest, sweetest, juiciest, messiest fruit you can get your mitts on. Bonus points if you let it get a little saggy-wrinkly on your kitchen counter for a day or so before you’re ready to whip up some mango panna cotta. If the skin is almost on the loose side, you’re in primo sweetest-mango-in-the-west territory.
Now, when it comes to making a memorable Coconut Mango Panna Cotta, there are two other key things to consider. You want the smoothest, creamiest (yes, full fat) coconut milk you can find without any added gums, emulsifiers or preservatives. (I like this one.) This is important, because if your coconut milk is grainy or the fat has separated from the water in the can, you’ll never get the smooth and satisfying mouthfeel of a creamy panna cotta.
The last thing to get right: don’t add too much gelatin. A good panna cotta is not a firm, jello-like set. You don’t want a milk-based gummy-type result here. When your Coconut Mango Panna Cotta is chilled and set, it should be fingertip firm on top, but still have a middle that quivers and, dare I say it, jiggles a tad if you gently shake it.
Too much gelatin gives a rubbery result, when what we’re aiming at is a panna cotta that gives way to your spoon with a wiggly-collapse. It should melt in your mouth almost immediately, barely held together by the lightest addition of gelatin.
If you like, you can make the panna cotta base without any added sweetener at all, as long as you use a super ripe mango to make the top layer. But for a little extra flavor depth, I like to add a tablespoon or so of raw honey, a smidge of vanilla and a good pinch of fine himalayan salt to bring everything together. (If you’re on the AIP, use vanilla bean powder rather than an alcohol based vanilla extract, but remember you’ll see a few flecks of vanilla throughout the finished Coconut Mango Panna Cotta.)
The mango topping is beyond simple: the sweetest mango, blitzed together with a squeeze of fresh lime and another pinch of himalayan salt. Spooned on top of the just-set panna cotta, it’s the perfect complement to the vanilla-scented coconut base. Swirled together on your spoon, it’s the perfect yin and yang of a bite.
If you want to make your mango panna cotta ahead of when you’d like to serve it, this recipe is super forgiving and will last a few days in the fridge just fine. However, I recommend that you make both the coconut base and the mango topping, then refrigerate them separately. You will want to give your mango coulis a stir and spoon it on top just before serving.
If you assemble the mango panna cottas ahead of time and then refrigerate them, the mango topping will separate a little. Not a huge deal breaker, but if you want them to look super pretty for company, you’ll want to avoid that as I described above.
If you like, you can gussy up your Coconut Mango Panna Cotta with a few extra garnishes. I like to add a pop of color with some fresh or frozen raspberries, then a few mint leaves and lime zest. I totally forgot this when I took the photos, but my favorite caramel sea salt coconut chips would be a lovely crunchy addition for a bit more bite and contrast with the creaminess underneath.
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml water
- 1¼ tsp / 4 g gelatin powder
- 2½ cups / 600 ml gum free full fat coconut milk
- ¼ tsp vanilla bean powder or ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 - 2 tbsp / 15 - 30 ml raw honey, optional
- Pinch of fine himalayan salt
- 1¼ cup / 225 g chopped super ripe mango (about 1 large)
- 1 tbsp / 15 ml fresh lime juice
- Pinch of fine himalayan salt
- Fresh or frozen raspberries
- Fresh mint leaves
- Lime zest
- Toasted coconut chips (these are my favorite)
- BLOOM: Pour the water into a small high sided bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatin. Let sit for the gelatin to absorb the water.
- WARM: While the gelatin is blooming, add the coconut milk, vanilla, honey and pinch of salt to a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Warm the coconut milk until it is almost steaming, but don't allow it to boil. Remove the coconut milk from the heat and add a few tablespoons of the hot mixture to the bowl with the bloomed gelatin. Whisk to combine until the gelatin is smoothly incorporated without lumps. Add the gelatin mixture to the rest of the hot coconut milk and stir until it is incorporated.
- CHILL: Let the coconut mixture cool for ten minutes or so, then carefully divide it into single servings. Set out 4 - 6 ramekins, tea cups or small mason jars on a small baking tray and pour the mixture into them so that you have equal sized portions. Cover the panna cottas with a layer of cling wrap, without it touching the surface of the desserts themselves. Transfer the tray to a shelf in the fridge and chill until set, at least 6 hours. The top should be firm, but the whole panna cotta should have a little wiggle when you shake it gently.
- BLEND: Add the mango, lime juice and salt to the bowl of a mini food processor and blitz until completely smooth. You can also make the couli using a stick blender and a narrow container to blend in. Keep the mango coulis in an airtight container in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the mango panna cottas.
- TOP: When you're ready to serve, spoon some of the mango coulis on top of each panna cotta. If you like, garnish each one with a few raspberries, a few mint leaves, some lime zest and a pinch of toasted coconut flakes.
- MAKE AHEAD: You can make both the mango panna cottas ahead of time, but keep the coconut and mango parts separate until just before serving. If you add the mango coulis and let it sit, there will be a little separation over time, so it's best to keep it refrigerated separately, then to give it a good stir before using to top the mango panna cottas just before serving. Both elements will keep, covered, in the fridge for 2 - 3 days.
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