I asked for some feedback from readers sometime during the course of the last two weeks, and one of the suggestions that came up was to share more health(ier) desserts on the blog. Needless to say, since reading that feedback I have been dreaming of better-for-you sweet treats that I can share with all of you. Last week Friday I offered to make dessert for dinner that night with friends, and this was the result. An idea popped into my head after I looked through what we had available in the pantry and fridge, and thankfully the result of my kitchen experiment was good (great actually). I think I have discovered my new favorite dessert ;)
I know that salted caramel is so 2016, but it is still one of my favorite flavour combos. A few years ago a good friend of mine opened up my eyes to wonderful dates, an ingredient that can be easily made into the most wonderful sweet paste that can be used as a substitute for refined sugar in many different recipes. Dates are nature's caramel, so when they are paired with a pinch of salt and blitzed up, they make the most amazing paste that is a pretty good salted caramel alternative. Coconut milk has become a staple pantry item in my home, so I used it as an alternative to cream, which is usually used to make panna cotta.It gives the dessert the most delicious, creamy mouthfeel. I absolutely love coconut milk.
In these pictures the panna cotta is served in a jar, but when we enjoyed it with friends I set individual desserts in a lightly oiled silicone muffin mould for the perfect little servings. We topped the panna cotta with a little pinch of sea salt and toasted coconut chips to serve.
Total time (including refrigeration): 3h 20min
- 2 Tbsp water
- 2 tsp gelatine powder
- 400 ml full-fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
- Toasted coconut flakes, to serve
- Pour the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatine powder over. Set aside and allow to bloom for 10 minutes.
- After setting the gelatine aside, place the chopped dates in a small bowl and just cover with boiling water. Allow to soak for 5 minutes. Once the dates have softened drain the water and add them to a jug. Add 1/4 cup of coconut milk to the jug and blend using a hand blender until the mixture is nice and smooth.
- Place the remaining coconut milk in a small saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the date paste to the saucepan after straining it through a sieve. Add the salt and whisk well to make sure that no lumps remain. Bring to a low boil and leave to thicken for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then to prevent burning on the bottom of the saucepan.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the gelatine mixture and the vanilla extract/essence. Whisk together until all of the gelatine is fully dissolved.
- Pour the mixture into a lightly silicone muffin mould, or into individual jars.
- Place into the fridge and allow to set for at least 3-4 hours.
- When you are ready to serve, either carefully remove each panna cotta carefully from the silicone muffin mould or serve in their individual jars. To serve, sprinkle with a little bit of salt and top with toasted coconut flakes.
For a vegan version, you can try substitute with agar agar. The texture will not be exactly the same, and the amounts may differ, but I am sure that it will work well enough.