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Coconut panna cotta is a creamy and decadent dessert that will definitely make an impression. It makes a great presentation at a special dinner or private family affair. And, it’s a dessert that can be made ahead of time so you can concentrate on dinner or focus on your guests.
A few weeks ago I was at a family gathering where my sister-in-law made this decadent dessert: panna cotta. Coconut panna cotta to be precise. It was creamy, flavorful, fresh, and beautiful. But, I don’t think anyone except my brother was excited about this dessert while she was making it. I think most of the family was planning on taking a small bite just to be polite.
We’d never had panna cotta before and didn’t know if it would be good or not. Boy, were we wrong!
What is Panna Cotta?
Panna cotta is an Italian custard-like dessert that has many variations. My sister-in-law’s recipe calls for coconut and tropical fruit like kiwi and strawberries. You could add mangos or other fruit too.
It’s really a non-dairy version of a pudding or other creamy dessert.
How to Make Coconut Panna Cotta
Coconut panna cotta seems more difficult to make than it really is. I learned from my sister-in-law that it’s really not hard at all.
You start with gelatin and a little bit of water. Let the gelatin soften while you start the coconut mixture. This is called “blooming.” It’s what makes the panna cotta creamy and smooth.
Next you put the coconut milk and coconut cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sides bubble. Don’t overcook this part or the milk can burn.
Add the bloomed gelatin mixture and whisk together until combined. Pour the mixture into a ramekin or small bowl. Let sit for at least four hours.
Next, you’ll turn the bowl or ramekin over to release the coconut panna cotta. (Tip: You may want to dip the “mold” in warm water before you tip if over to help release the dessert.)
Top with sliced fruit and toasted coconut. (To toast the coconut, just add the coconut flakes to a frying pan on low heat. Stir often until golden brown. Watch very closely so the coconut doesn’t burn.)
Back at the house, when it was time to plate the desserts we each got a separate plate decorated with the coconut panna cotta, sprinkled with toasted coconut and sliced kiwis and strawberries. It was simply beautiful.
Take a closer look. Don’t you want a bite?
Everyone took his/her polite bite — then proceeded to eat the entire dessert. My husband, who is a self-proclaimed coconut hater even ate his entire piece.
Coconut Panna Cotta
- 1 tbsp powdered gelatin
- 1 15-oz can coconut cream
- 1 13.5-oz can coconut milk
- 2 cups heavy cream (chilled)
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- fruit for garnish (strawberries and kiwi)
- Put 3 tablespoons of water in a bowl.
- Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the water and set aside. The gelatin will soften and thicken.
- In saucepan, heat coconut cream and coconut milk over medium heat until it slightly bubbles. Lower the heat and whisk in the gelatin mixture until completely dissolved.
- Fill large bowl with cold water. Set another bowl into the bowl of water. Strain the coconut mixture into a bowl so that it will cool.
- Stir the mixture every few minutes until it starts to thicken. Remove the bowl if the mixture starts to set too quickly.
- Remove the bowl of coconut mixture from the bowl of water.
- In a dry bowl, stir the cream and confectioners' sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Mix into the coconut mixture.
- Divide the combined coconut mixture evenly among 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins or small bowls.
- Chill until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
- To serve, run a knife around the inside edge of the ramekins and turn each one upside down onto a plate.
- Top with sliced fruit such as kiwi and strawberries.
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