Coconut Panna Cotta with White Vanilla-MainPhoto

Coconut Panna Cotta with White Vanilla-MainPhoto
My inspiration for this recipe started with the traditional Christmas dessert known as tembleque found in my country of Puerto Rico. Panna cotta which is found in Italy is similar and both are very easy to make and very delicate and creamy. When I created this dessert, I tried to combine a little bite of both of these countries whose food and culture inspire me in the kitchen daily.

You can decorate this dish with a few mint leaves or sprinkle some powdered cinnamon on top of it as you would find on the traditional tembleque in Puerto Rico. For a more creative touch, you can make a raspberry sauce with butter, sugar, orange liqueur or brandy, orange or lime juice and cinnamon…it’s all up to you!

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10 oz. coconut milk
10 oz heavy cream
4 oz of sugar
1 packet of flavorless gelatin (approx. 2½ TSP)
1 TSP clear white vanilla  (see note)
1 oz brandy
Powdered cinnamon or fresh mint for garnish (optional)


  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in a few drops of water.
  2. Pour the coconut milk, heavy cream and sugar in a  heavy pot and heat to just under the boiling point. Simmer until the sugar dissolves in the milk.
  3. Remove from the heat, add the dissolved gelatin and vanilla and beat with a whisk  until there are no lumps of gelatin. For a more festive touch, add in the brandy at this point.
  4. Pour into your favorite glasses or serving dish and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours until the panna cotta becomes firm. You could also pour the mixture into a flan mold for a more elegant presentation.
  5. Garnish with either powdered cinnamon or fresh mint leaves and serve.

Editor’s note:  Clear imitation white vanilla can be found in major supermarkets. If you cannot find white vanilla either liquid or powdered, you can substitute standard vanilla extract.