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Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango Centre


I’ve been spending a lot of time travelling between Norwich, London and Oxford recently, whilst this has given me any number of things to moan  about the British transport system it also given me a great deal of time to think about food. The recipe which follows is a result of a particularly tedious coach ride from London to Norwich. I started playing around with ideas about fondants and I felt that it might work well outside of the inevitable chocolate version which so often fails to impress on Masterchef. A panna cotta seemed ideal to hide a soft runny centre inside; I guessed it was structurally sound enough to not burst at the seams when removed from the mould.

The flavours here might be (very) broadly described as ‘Asian’ and they pair brilliantly together, the fresh sharpness of the mango cutting through the creamy richness of the coconut. I consider spicing the puree but I decided to work on the technique first.

I have to say I am pretty pleased with this little fella, I did it mostly through intuition (credit to Greg Doyle at Pier for the basic panna cotta recipe though) and it worked pretty much perfectly. The presentation only struck me as I went to pipe on some coulis. Originally I was going to cover the top in a layer of puree but 2 seconds into the process I realised exactly what it looked like. The egg-yellow centre made the visual cue an easy step to make.

I’m now musing about the idea of serving it egg shaped, with a sphere of puree in the centre. There are a lot of faux-egg recipes out there though and maybe that is a stretch too far. I ultimately envisage this taking a smaller part (and shrinking in size) in a much more complicated dessert dish involving more Asian flavours and being quite technically involved. Other elements may well follow as I explore ideas I have, any suggestions would be welcome.

I’ve also made an effort to improve the quality of photos on the blog over the next couple of posts so I hope you like them.




  • 6.5 sheets gelatine (platinum grade)
  • 440ml milk
  • 440ml coconut cream (I used a 240ml can of coconut milk and 200g of creamed coconut, gently heated together until they combine don’t heat too vigorously or you’ll split the emulsion – thin it with the watery coconut milk until around double cream consistency)
  • 85g sugar
  • 2 fresh mangoes

Serves 6

Panna Cotta Base

  1. Soak the gelatine in cold water.
  2. Heat the milk and sugar together in a pan, add the gelatine (having squeezed the excess water from it)
  3. Add the coconut cream.
  4. Chill over an ice bath

Mango Puree

  1. Remove the flesh from the mangoes and puree, season with sugar and lime to taste.
  2. Prepare the moulds by covering the bottom of a 6cm ring mould with cling film. Pop into a hot oven for 5 seconds to tighten the clingfilm.
  3. Pour into 6 ring moulds to about 1cm deep.
  4. Put in the freezer
  5. Reserve the rest in a squeezy bottle in the fridge.

Panna Cotta Moulds

  1. Prepare the moulds for the panna cotta in exactly the same way as previously, using 8cm ring moulds.
  2. Pour the PC mix into 6 ring moulds to just over 1cm depth.
  3. Chill in the fridge to set the bottom layer.
  4. When the puree has frozen and the base set remove the mango from the mould and place it on top of the base in the centre.
  5. Top up with the rest of the panna cotta base mix in the mould, fill it all the way to the top. If it has set in the intervening period then heat it gently in a pan.
  6. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

To serve

  1. Place a plate over the ‘open’ end of the mould and invert, remove the cling film and gently lift , the panna cotta should slowly slide itself out.
  2. Place the tip of the bottle slightly off centre and squeeze until a circle forms.
  3. Serve.

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