Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Vanilla-Mango Panna Cotta (sort of)

July 28, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, groups, puddings, custards, mousses, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 22 Comments
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vanilla-mango panna cotta

Panna cotta is one of those chilled, wobbly, creamy desserts that a lot of people seem to love.  Okay, I am not one of those people…cooked cream sounds like it should be right up my alley, but the secret to this eggless Italian pudding is usually gelatin, something that I avoid whenever possible.  I want to love it though, and I am continuing my quest for a vegetarian gelatin substitute anyway, so I decided to try out powdered agar-agar in this week’s layered Vanilla-Mango Panna Cotta recipe. The only other time I’ve experimented with agar-agar at home was with this mirror thing several years back, and it did not go so well.  I still didn’t really know what I was doing here, but I did a little more research and decided to use 1 tsp of agar powder in place of the 2 1/4 tsp gelatin in the recipe.

I first blended my frozen mango with lime juice and honey and spooned that puree into glasses.  I then cooked my vanilla sweetened cream and milk with my agar powder for a few minutes to activate the agar-agar and poured that on top of the puree.  Then I put the everything into the fridge to set and crossed my fingers.  And when I opened the fridge an hour later, it was really firm…like, nothing delicate about it…not what I was hoping for.

Besides the mirror thing, my only other agar-agar experience is an entry-level molecular gastromy technique that we used at the fancy-pants restaurant I worked for in Sydney called a “fluid gel.”  We’d boil fruit juice with enough agar powder to make it set hard (practically so hard it could bounce) when cooled.  Then we’d blitz it in a high-speed blender until it turned into a gel the consistency of toothpaste (remember Close-Up?) that we could use to make dots and squiggles for plate decoration.

I thought about my fluid gel days with a hint of nostalgia and decided to scrape my not-panna cotta (notta-cotta?), mango puree and all, into the blender and I whizzed it up into a very creamy and luxurious soft pudding.  I had a bit of extra mango puree that was meant to go with my morning yogurt, but plans change, so I divided it up into my glasses and topped it with my vanilla-mango pudding and some blueberries.  I couldn’t call it panna cotta in the end, but it was cold, creamy and tasty anyway.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

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  1. Mine was panna not cotta as well. I definitely thing using substitutes needed more research on my part… Yours LOOK lovely 🙂

  2. Your panna cotta looks lovely, beautiful colors. I have not used agar agar for over 25yrs and I would think you needed more agar agar than gelatin. I´m still figuring out my gelatin portion. I have made panna cotta at least 3 times and still not perfectly happy with the texture.

  3. That wad a creative save. Mine was quite firm too, but as I only had one serve, I let it be.

  4. It still looks very appetizing and delicious! What about pectin? Would that work instead of gelatin?

  5. Beautiful! Hope it was equally delicious.

  6. I just always love your pictures and the added touch you use…like the blueberries. So pretty!!

  7. Panna Cotta, Not-a Cotta, I’m sure it was delicious! Mardi wrote that she used something called vege-gel (just be sure to read the instructions carefully). This tasted so good it’d be a shame not to make this again!

  8. Blueberry garnish? Love it!

  9. The blueberries on top are a really nice touch. I love the creativity in repurposing it!

  10. Even if it wasn’t strictly a panna cotta it still looks amazing. I love the blueberries.

  11. I think that, even though it couldn’t officially be called Panna Cotta, the texture might have been more preferable once you whizzed it up into a pudding. Even with the regular gelatin it was rather firm. I was only so so on the texture, and found it a little distracting personally.

  12. Love your photo. I like your quest for a vegetarian gelatin. Agar agar has been sitting in the drawer. I know it works, just haven’t figured out the right proportion. What about using 1/2 tsp?

    • I think the book has another panna cotta recipe, so I’ll try agar again then in a reduced amount.

  13. Love your presentation, using the two fruits was a great idea.

  14. I love your idea for Notta-Cotta! Did you find that prior to blending, the amount of agar that you used was enough to stabilize the pudding?

    • Yes, it was too stabilized, I think…very firm. Putting it in the blender loosened it up. Next time I’ll try a little less agar powder.

  15. I am so impressed at all the effort and research you did in the stabilizer area. My effort consisted of trying to decide if one package of gelatin was the same as the measurements Dorie called for (luckily it was, I hate to waste things and have half open leftovers). Gorgeous results and so happy you enjoyed it !

  16. Your end product looks so beautiful, especially with the blueberry garnish! I want to make a vegan version for my partner, but it sounds like I’ll need to do some research.

  17. It looks so good.

  18. Your creamy dessert sounds delicious. I am not a gelatin consistency person either. I loved that you topped yours with blueberries.

  19. Oh my, this looks so delicious!

  20. yum…


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