Lemon panna cotta is a light vegan pudding, with a mango compote on top, bright with lemon flavors, and melt-in-your-mouth creamy. A wonderful agar agar recipe and only three ingredients.
Lemon Panna Cotta
This vegan lemon panna cotta is a refreshingly healthy take on a beloved elegant Italian dessert. It’s basically a custard recipe using agar agar to solidify it. And no tofu involved!
Here, I’ll tell you a bit more.
Panna cotta – often mispelled “panacota” or “pannacotta”, is a pudding-like dessert known for the flavor gently infused into it. Typically heavy dairy creams provide the base.
Here, I made it dairy-free. So the dessert is lighter. And the flavor I chose to infuse my panna cotta with is lemon with mango, and a mango puree recipe on top. Only three ingredients. Perfect.
Panna cotta involves a delicate tricky process of gelling. So this is an easy agar agar recipe. Don’t be intimidated at the words “agar agar”, it really is super easy to work with.
How to Make Panna Cotta Be Vegan
To veganize this traditionally dairy-based recipe, I swapped the typical gelatin (animal-based) for agar agar (seaweed). This easy swap instantly improves the nutrition of this recipe. Why? Because agar agar is nutritious. It is a good source of calcium and iron, and is very high in fiber.
The next alteration is I removed the dairy.
Now, I know what you are thinking. Easy, just use coconut cream, the typical vegan swap for dairy in a dessert.
Not a good idea here. While that swap can make a delicious panna cotta, it makes it a coconut-flavored panna cotta.
Panna cotta is famous for the flavor that infuses it. So I want to create a clean panna cotta base with no flavor influence. That way I can flavor it. I can choose anything from lemon to chocolate to Earl Grey tea!
What Neutral Ingredient Can Replace Dairy?
In the end, I found a surprisingly simple ingredient to use as a base. It took many tries however. I tested tofu, my trusty white beans, and zucchini (yes, zucchini – it didn’t gel at all, haha)
In the end, the best and easiest version by far was plant milk. The risk, of course, is that milk might not be creamy enough. Ah ha. But I have a secret trick.
*she crooks her finger and whispers* Just add a touch more agar.
And actually I had to anyway. That’s because I wanted to use lemon as a flavor and the more acidic your flavoring, the more agar you need to gel.
I also added a bit of agar agar to the mango coulis – also called, mango puree or mango compote – for the top. This added to the gel-like quality of the entire dessert and made it quite fun to eat!
And the best part of all was how easy and fast it was to make — just simmer, pour and wait!
Let me explain how!
How to Make Lemon Panna Cotta
First make the panna cotta recipe. Simmer the milk, maple syrup, lemon peels and agar powder in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat and stir until the solution seems completely combined, about 2 minutes.
Remove the lemon peels from the solution and pour into 2 small glasses. I used yogurt glasses. Let the jars cool to room temperature.
Then refrigerate. It may take 1-2 hours to set. Setting means it doesn’t slosh when you move jars.
It might take longer to set; there are a lot of influencing factors. If you want to be sure it will set in time, make it the day before and let it set overnight.
How to Make Mango Puree
Now, how to make the mango puree. My mango puree recipe goes like this.
Heat the chopped ripe mango, maple syrup and water in a pan.
I used thawed frozen mango but you can use fresh as well, it might be a bit tougher to mush up in the next step however.
Smash up the mango as it gets mushy. Simmer the sauce a few minutes until it appears to thicken. This step took me about 2 minutes.
Let the mango puree cool to room temperature. Pour into the mixture the lemon juice.
Assemble and serve with slices of lemon. Both recipes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Interested in sharing on pinterest? Perhaps use this image…
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Lemon Mango Panna Cotta (3-ingredients, vegan, no-coconut)
makes 1 cup panna cotta
- 1 cup plant milk
- 1 1/2 tsp agar powder
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Optional: a few lemon rind peels
makes 1/2 cup mango puree
- 1/2 cup chopped mango
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp agar powder
- 1/4 cup water
Make Panna Cotta
- Simmer on stove the milk, maple syrup, lemon peels, and agar powder. Do not boil. Stir and keep on simmer until solution seems completely combined. It took me about 2-3 minutes.
- Remove lemon peels. Fill 3 small shot or yogurt glasses. Let jars cool to room temperature and then refrigerate 1-2 hours or until panna cotta sets (it doesn't slosh when you move jars). It might take longer to set, there are a lot of influencing factors. If you want to be sure it will set in time, make it the day before and let it set overnight.
Make Mango Puree
- Heat in pan the chopped mango, maple syrup, and water. Mash mango with a fork as it gets mushy.
- Simmer sauce a few minutes until it appears to thicken. It took me about 2 1/2 minutes. Let sauce cool to room temperature. Stir in lemon juice.
Assemble & Serve Panna Cotta
- Spoon puree in even amounts on top of each chilled panna cotta. Decorate with sliced lemon.
- Both recipes can be kept refrigerated overnight for best taste.
Dee Dine is founder of Green Smoothie Gourmet, a plant based recipe blog, and author of the recent cookbook, Crazy Healthy with 4 Ingredients . On this blog you’ll find incredibly easy recipes with hidden veggies for anyone wanting to eat healthier, regardless of diet. Dee has graduate degrees in biology, immunology and journalism. More about Dee Dine here.