Vegan panna cotta is one of the easiest and most delicious desserts one can prepare at home. Its secrets are not much, nor does it require any particular technique to be made. The only prerequisites are a dense, rich, plant-based milk such as coconut milk and a plant-based “gelatine” such as agar agar (a natural polysaccharide made from a species of seaweeds). During springtime, when the strawberries are abundant and delicious, I like to add a few into my recipe so that our panna cotta gets the aroma and the slightly sour taste of fresh strawberries. Garnished with a light strawberry sauce (recipe below) or a drizzle of vegan chocolate syrup, this vegan strawberry panna cotta is one of our favorite desserts during May!
for the strawberry panna cotta
- 2 cups or 1 can (480 ml) full-fat coconut milk or homemade coconut milk
- 250g fresh strawberries (you can also use frozen)
- 4 tbsp sugar or other sweetener of choice (you can also use coconut sugar or raw cane sugar although they may change the color of the panna cotta a little bit)
- 2 tsp. (level) agar agar powder
for the strawberry sauce
- 250g fresh strawberries (or frozen)
- 3 tbsp sugar or other the sweetener of your choice
1. For the panna cotta: Blend the strawberries in the blender and push the pulp through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. Measure the pulp to make sure it is one cup.
2. In a saucepan add the pulp of strawberries, sugar, coconut milk and agar agar. Stir until the agar agar is completely dissolved, turn on the heat and once it comes to boil lower and simmer for five minutes stirring.
3. Distribute the mixture among 4-5 ramekins and let cool. After completely cooled put it in the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving.
4. For the strawberry sauce: Blend the strawberries in the blender and push the pulp through a fine sieve. Put the pulp together with the sugar in a pan and simmer for five minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and let cool.
5. To serve: You can serve panna cotta directly in the ramekins, garnished with a spoonful of strawberry sauce or you can unmold it and put it on a layer of strawberry sauce, in a plate. Garnish with fresh strawberries.
Semolina halva is one of the most popular traditional vegan (most of the times) desserts! The reason is not only the amazing taste but also its minimal cost. Subsequently it’s not weird that for centuries now, the original recipe has survived from wars, poverty and wealth and still nowadays you can find a variant of it in almost every Greek house. In the family where I grew, we used to make it often, especially during the fasting periods, always using the classic recipe “1 – 2 – 3 – 4 “, which means one cup of olive oil, two cups of wheat semolina, three cups of sugar and four cups of water. My mother makes this delight using freshly squeezed orange juice instead of water, and for extra taste and flavor she adds a pinch of orange zest, cinnamon, raisins and walnuts.
Although the taste of my mother’s recipe is etched deeply in my memory, I usually make a lighter but extremely delicious and aromatic variant, in which I use corn meal instead of wheat semolina, agave syrup instead of sugar and last but not least I cut the oil almost in half. For extra color and to give it an oriental touch, I also add saffron and turmeric.Because this delicious dessert is very simple to make, the recipe is ideal especially in times when you need to prepare an easy, tempting dessert for your friends or your family.
- 75 ml (1/3 cup) virgin olive oil
- 1 cup organic cornmeal (polenta)
- ¾ cup agave syrup or other liquid sweetener
- 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 10 saffron stamens
- ½ tsp orange zest
- ½ cup candied orange peel chopped or chopped dried fruit of your choice, such as raisins
- ground pistachios for garnish
1. In a heavy saucepan, add the olive oil along with the cornmeal and roast over low heat. Stir for about 10 minutes with a wooden spoon, until you get a nice color and a nutty aroma. Then add the orange zest, the saffron and the turmeric and continue stirring for five more minutes.
2. Add the agave syrup and the orange juice, stirring constantly, until the halva starts to get a thick texture. Pour the candied orange peel or dried fruits and mix.
3. With a spoon transfer the halva into a cake mold (0.8-1 liter capacity) and press to equally distribute and flatten the surface. Allow to cool for about two hours and then transfer in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Unmold from the pan on a platter, garnish with the pistachios and serve.
Some people are really obsessed with citrus fruits and citrus-flavored desserts and this is not surprising! Citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines and lemons have distinct aromas and qualities, compelling sweet and sour tastes and freshness. Well, I am not exactly “obsessed” with citrus fruits but I like them a lot not only in their fresh, unprocessed form but also as a tasty addition to recipes.
One of our favorite dessert recipes is this simple but decadent orange tart. What I like in it, is the combination of the crispy, buttery crust with the sweet and sour, light and delicate orange cream.
For the crust
- 125 gr cold vegan butter
- 3 tbsp cold almond milk or water
- 3 tbsp raw cane sugar
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- zest of 1 orange
For the orange cream
- 4 cups squeezed orange juice
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ¾ cup raw cane sugar
- zest of 1 orange
- Make the crust: In a bowl mix all the ingredients. If the dough is too soft, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of flour. Do not over-knead so as to get a nice crispy texture after baking. Form a ball with the dough, wrap it with a plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for half an hour.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and using a rolling pin, roll it out on a lightly floured greaseproof paper to a thickness of ½ – 1 cm. Use the sheet to turn the dough over into the tart pan. I used a tart pan of about 22 cm diameter. Fit the dough against the bottom and sides and trim excess pastry from top edge of pan. Prick it all over with a fork and chill in refrigerator for up to 30 minutes. Lay a greaseproof paper on the crust and pour over two or three handfuls of dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven at 175 oC. Remove the beans and the paper and bake for 20 more minutes or until golden. Let cool completely.
- Make the orange cream: Pour in a saucepan 2 cups of the orange juice with the sugar and the orange zest and bring to boil. In the remaining juice dissolve the flour, stirring well to dissolve clumps. Pour the flour mixture in the saucepan, reduce heat and stir for about 5 minutes or until a thick cream has been formed. Remove from heat and cover the surface with plastic wrap. Let cool completely (3-4 hours).
- Assembly: Stir the cream with a whisk or a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes until fluffy. Spread the cream onto the tart and flatten its surface. Put in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours before serving.