Vegan Panna Cotta with Lemon-Butterfly Pea Glaze

Vegan Panna Cotta with Lemon-Butterfly Pea Glaze

Serves 6.

We love the simple Italian dessert panna cotta, and here we make it vegan and distinctly Curio by infusing coconut milk with vanilla and cardamom for a subtly complex flavor. The lemon glaze is scented with cardamom and gets its jewel-like violet color from butterfly pea flowers, a rare flower we source from urban farmers in Cartagena, Colombia. 

Note: You can make the panna cotta and glaze a day or two ahead of time, keeping them separately in the fridge. The glaze will thicken in the fridge, so you’ll need to warm it to return it to a spoonable consistency — do that in a saucepan or by popping it into the microwave for a few seconds. 

For the panna cotta:
1 can (13-14 ounces) full-fat coconut milk
1 can (13-14 ounces light coconut milk
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon agar powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon vanilla powder or vanilla paste
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom 

For the glaze:
1 tablespoon (heaping) butterfly pea flowers
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ cup sugar   
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
5 cardamom pods, cracked
2 strips lemon peel, no white pith 

Make the panna cotta  Set out six ramekins or custard pots. 

Put the coconut milk, sugar, agar, salt, vanilla powder or paste, and lemon juice into a heavy saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure the sugar has dissolved. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the ground cardamom, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. 

Strain the coconut mixture into a pitcher or glass measuring cup for pouring. 

Divide the coconut mixture equally among six small custard pots or ramekins, about 5 ounces per. (This is much easier if you set the pots or ramekins on a tray or into a casserole before filling them!) Set aside to cool for another 15 minutes, then transfer to the fridge. 

Make the glaze  Put the butterfly pea flowers into a small bowl, pour ⅓ cup very hot water over them, and set aside to infuse for 5 minutes. The water will turn an intense blue as the flowers infuse.

Put the lemon juice into a small saucepan and sprinkle the cornstarch over it. Stir until the starch has dissolved and there are no lumps. Add the sugar, salt, and cardamom pods to the pan and set it over medium-high heat. Bring the liquids to a boil, then reduce the heat so the glaze is simmering. It will look ‘milky’ at this point. 

Strain the blue butterfly pea water into the saucepan — as the blue water interacts with the acidic lemon juice, the glaze will immediately take on a beautiful violet color. Continue to cook the glaze, stirring occasionally, until it is translucent and thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the lemon peel, and leave to infuse and cool. Remove the cardamom pods and discard.

For serving  The panna cotta will be set after about 2 hours in the fridge (overnight is fine, too). Spoon a generous teaspoon of glaze atop each pot or ramekin, tilting it back and forth so that the glaze spreads and coats the surface. For the best presentation, serve within a few hours of adding the glaze so that its color doesn’t diffuse into the panna cotta.  


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