talk a lot about how much I love Italy. The food, the people, the food, the sites, the food…you get it. Maybe it’s that I’ve visited three times in the past few years, maybe it’s that it’s so freaking easy to have celiac and feel like a normal human being there, which I was totally not expecting the first time I went, who knows. Probably the amazingly nice people, beautiful landscapes, and oh yeah, the food. Because DUH.
Remember when I talked about how my brother and I loved gelato so, so much when we were there, we turned happy hour into “gelato o’clock”? Yep, we had it nearly every day we were there, around 4-5pm. Because fun fact, eating dinner at 7:30 in Italy is extremely early, and most people don’t sit down until at least 9pm. Like WHAT!? My stomach cannot handle eating lunch around 1 or 2 and not eating again until 9pm. Not going to happen. Thus, gelato o’clock. And when you’re walking around for nearly every waking hour of the day touring sites (well, at least aside from those hours you’re eating, anyway), you’re gonna work up a nice big appetite. So why not gelato to fill that awkward void between lunch and dinner? When in Rome, right? Literally though.
But Dana, you’re talking about gelato. This recipe is PANNA COTTA. Yeah, yeah, hold your panna cotta-loving horses, I’m getting there.
So this whole gelato love story thing for me and my brother? Well, it was a different story for my dad. He became head-over-heels, ob-freaking-sessed with panna cotta. Every city we visited, and every restaurant that had some variation of panna cotta on their menu, he had to get it. Which, is a LOT, because nearly every freaking restaurant we went to in Italy had panna cotta on their menu. Everything in moderation was not the motto we lived by when we were traveling around Italy, to say the least.
There was one particular instance in Bologna where my dad had THE BEST panna cotta. Or so he said, anyway. And following that, he couldn’t help comparing every single panna cotta he had to that ONE restaurant back in Florence. Me: “So, Dad, how was the panna cotta?” Dad: “Pretty good, but not nearly as good as that one in Florence.” Every night, this was how the conversation went. So it’s a running joke now that we’re back at home, that whenever there’s a restaurant with panna cotta on the menu, we ask my Dad if he thinks it’ll be as good as the one back in Florence.
Needless to say I was a bit intimidated to try out a panna cotta recipe of my own, let alone a dairy-free one, or feel the wrath of the “pretty goods.” That’s the thing with my dad – there’s only four levels of food rankings for him. 1) bad – WTF were you thinking serving this?? 2) just okay, meh. Those first two don’t happen very often at all. But next… 3) pretty good – this is where most of EVERYTHING fits in. Almost every dang thing I he’ll get in a restaurant, or stuff that I make is “pretty good”, until we hit 4) wow. that was REALLY good. Fantastic. Spectacular. Lick the plate clean and go back for thirds kind of good. And then I know the recipe is right.
So, to get that “REALLY good,” I tried out a couple different panna cotta recipes to see which one I liked best – ones with almond milk vs. coconut milk, eggs vs. no eggs, different amounts of gelatin…until I finally settled on this one, with just the right amount of spice (and everything nice, of course!) The best part is, you can totally switch up the toppings and make an entirely different flavor profile. Don’t have berries on hand? Try out some grilled peaches, sautéed apples or bananas, depending on the season. And a little dark chocolate never hurt anybody, to top it all off! You wanna get suuuper fancy all up in here? Add some coconut whipped cream on top. You know you want to.
Spoiler alert: I got the REALLY GOOD on this one, almost as good as the famous Bologna panna cotta. Considering I’m no Italian chef, I’ll take that! Plus, um hello. A delicious summer treat with a healthy, gut-healing boost from Vital Proteins gelatin? Count me in.
- 1 can (13.5 oz) full-fat coconut milk(not the light kind!)
- 1 Tbsp high-quality gelatin(my favorite is Vital Proteins!)
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp maple extract
- Small pinch sea salt
- 1 cup mixed berries**
- Optional: shaved dark chocolate
- toasted coconut
- coconut whipped cream
- First, if you haven’t already done so, separate the egg yolks from the whites. Set the whites aside, you won’t need them for this recipe.
- Take out 4-6 mini ramekins or mason jarsand set aside.
- Open up your can of coconut milk and pour it into a small saucepan. If it has separated into cream and water parts, use a whisk to combine them again. Set aside ¼ cup of the coconut milk in a small bowl, and sprinkle 1 Tbsp gelatin on top. Allow it to “bloom” for about 10 minutes, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Add in the egg yolks, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of sea salt to the saucepan. Turn the heat on medium low, and slowly whisk the ingredients together until combined. You want the mixture to warm so the gelatin dissolves completely into the rest of our ingredients, but don’t let the pan boil. Don’t whisk too quickly or the eggs will scramble (and we’re not making scrambled eggs for dessert here!) Allow the pan to warm for about 5 minutes, then take the pan off the heat.
- Once off the heat, stir in the maple and vanilla extracts and the small bowl of gelatin/coconut milk mixture, until the gelatin has completely dissolved.
- Carefully pour the mixture into 4-6 mini ramekins, depending on the desired serving size. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to cool for at least 2 hours, until firm to the touch.
- Top with mixed berries! I like to add some shaved dark chocolate and coconut whipped cream on top of mine too.
This post was sponsored by Vital Proteins. All snarky thoughts, opinions and ideas expressed are my own. 🙂
Recipe inspired by Stupid Easy Paleo!