This is my first ever try at making pannacotta. My interest in making this Italian dessert stems from watching Masterchef Australia, where contestants put up endless varieties of lip-smacking pannacotta in beautiful shapes and sizes of glasses. My only problem – being a vegetarian, I was reluctant to use animal gelatine. So for the longest time, I did not venture to trying this dessert at all. Recently, I happened to read a few blog articles that said that china grass could be easily substituted for animal gelatine, and the results were very close. (China grass is basically derived from seaweed, and hence is vegetarian, unlike gelatine that is collagen obtained from animal by-products). I thought about the possibilities. All the desserts that I’ve been hitherto avoiding due to the requirement of having to add gelatine – like creme caramel, jelly, pudding, etc. could all be made with china grass!
This being abundant mango season, I thought why not take a plunge into the pannacotta madness and test China grass by making a mango pannacotta?
You will not find a step-by-step recipe here. Instead, I will direct you to this fantastic video on how to make Mango Pannacotta by Amy Tong on Youtube . This is really simple and easy to understand. Nothing frilly or fussy.
However, the only change I made to Amy’s recipe was to substitute the gelatine with china grass.
Instructions on using China Grass below:
- When you buy china grass, you will see that it comes in long threads , all bunched together. I used the Goldkey brand (10 gm box) – that should be easily available in supermarkets and on Big Basket. It says falooda grass on the packet. You can pickup any brand you like.
- Cut the china grass threads into small pieces using a pair of scissors. Don’t keep the pieces big, since this will take along time to dissolve.
- Soak the chopped china grass pieces in a cup of water. Just pour enough water to cover the grass.
- After 10 minutes of soaking, put this on the stove on a low flame and let it come to a slow boil. Keep stirring slowly with a spoon , to help even out the dissolving process.
- After you see that everything has dissolved completely & has become a homogenous liquid, switch off the stove.
- At this point, let it cool for just about 2-3 mins (not longer, it will start setting)
- Add this to your pannacotta milk mixture / mango pulp mixture and incorporate well.
- Pour into glasses of desired shape and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to set.
For the Cardamom Pannacotta:
Instead of vanilla essence for flavouring, I powdered 4-5 cardamoms with 2 tsps of sugar, and added this to the pannacotta milk/cream mixture. It imparts a lovely, light cardamom flavour that works well with the mangoes.
Making the Berry Coulis:
The tartness of the berries actually compliments the sweetness of the ripe mangoes beautifully, elevating its flavour profile. It also adds a pop of color to the whole dish. I actually set out to make berry jam for another dessert – just ended up picking up a few berries from the jam and using it for this dessert 😀 It turned out fabulous. I seriously recommend you try this – you will have no regrets!
- Choose any mixed berries you like – about 50 grams of each type. I used cranberries, blackberries and added 1 orange’s juice and zest for a kick.
- Add sugar according to taste, depending on the sweetness/tartness of your berries. I used equal amounts berries to sugar,as my berries were quite tart.
- Just mix up the berries, sugar, a pinch of salt, orange juice, orange zest in a saucepan.
- Bring to boil on a low flame. When berries start releasing their juices and breaking down, switch off the stove. This will take about 5 minutes.
- After this cools down completely, spoon juice with berries over the mango pannacotta (however more or less you want) and enjoy!
Note: If you want to make jam, take this further about 10-11 minutes more, stirring at 2-3 minute intervals. The juices will start reducing and acquiring a jam-like consistency. You can switch off the stove, let it cool down completely and store it in an airtight jar. Keeps for about a week.
Do try this and let me know how it went!!