Toasted coconut panna cotta

Dessert has been pretty scarce around our house lately with me trying to give up processed sugar but we all need to indulge once in awhile.  With Valentines Day coming up I just had to come up with something pretty and tasty to celebrate the holiday.   I know that chocolate on Valentine’s Day is the tradition but I wanted something fresh and light.

This panna cotta comes together in a manner of minutes and needs to chill for at least 4 hours, so it’s perfect to make the day before so you can focus on enjoying time with your special someone instead of slaving over a hot stove.

As an added benefit it’s dairy free and vegan.  Coconut milk lends a creamy richness and amazing flavor and is perfect if you have any vegetarians to please.  The recipe call for Agar agar, it is derived from a wild sea vegetable, is odorless and tasteless but can be used in any recipe that calls for gelatin.  If you can’t find agar agar, gelatin will work equally well, it just won't be vegan.  The pomegranates and lime add a nice tartness to the toasted coconut.

We should all celebrate every day we have with our loved ones, but it is nice to connect and reflect on what brings us together.  Food is one of the best ways I know to show my family and friends that I care and I hope they enjoy eating as much as I enjoy cooking for them.  If you are looking for some other sweet inspirations visit me at

Toasted coconut panna cotta 

½ cup shaved coconut

1 can coconut milk (15 ounces)

¼ cup sugar

½ vanilla bean

1 teaspoon agar agar or 1½ teaspoons gelatin

2 tablespoons cold water


Pomegranate syrup

2 tablespoons sugar

½ cup pomegranate seeds

2 tablespoons water

½ vanilla bean

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds for serving


For the panna cotta: 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spread the coconut on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake, stirring once or twice, until golden, about 5 to 10 minutes.

In a small bowl sprinkle the agar agar or gelatin over the water and stir.  Set aside to

let the gelatin bloom. 

In a small saucepan heat the coconut milk, sugar, toasted coconut and vanilla bean and bring to a boil.  Whisk in the agar agar mixture and continue to boil for one minute.  Strain the coconut milk into a mixing bowl.

Divide the coconut mixture evenly into three serving containers and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.

To serve, spoon a tablespoon of the pomegranate syrup on top of the panna cotta and garnish with a few pomegranate seeds.


For the sauce:

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and place in a small saucepan.  Add the sugar, pomegranate seeds, and water to the saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.  Cook for five minutes until the syrup has taken on some color and coats the back of a spoon.  Add the lime juice and set aside to cool. 

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