Some might say Panna Cotta is a thing on it’s own, and making it in pie form is unnecessary. For me, any excuse to make a crunchy almond flour pie base is valid.
Panna Cotta is meant to be delicate and silky, and hold itself together just enough so you can carve into it with a spoon and hold its shape. In pie form I make mine just a little more set, to give it more structure so it holds it’s own better as you slice through it.
I use agar agar because it’s what I’ve got at home, and half of the household is vegetarian. You can also use gelatin to set it, but you’ll have to follow the packet’s instructions for a slightly more set than “flan” quantities.
Either way, do follow the instructions of your agar/gelatin packet, as how much you need and how much to boil it (or soak it) for in order to activate it might differ.
For my Panna Cotta this time I used some of my homemade buttermilk (byproduct of making cultured butter following Cannelle Vanille’s recipe) and homemade kefir, which definitely contributed some tanginess to the dessert.
For a more subtle flavour, replace the buttermilk and kefir for an extra 200ml of whipping cream, and 50ml of yoghurt.
To finish it off, I like to serve it with some of my hibiscus jam, but if you eat berries, some homemade berry jam, or even fresh berries would go very well. I’ve even gone as far as making a runny, slightly sweetened peanut butter sauce (with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, a few drops of boiling water and a 1/4 tsp of powdered xylitol) and drizzling it over, and that wasn’t bad either.
Oh, and did I mention it’s no-bake?
- 200g almond flour
- 50g powdered xylitol
- 1 tsp powdered cinnamon
- 110g melted butter
- 200ml whipping cream*
- 150ml buttermilk*
- 75ml kefir
- 1/4tsp vanilla pods
- 1.5 tsp Agar flakes
- 50g powdered xylitol
To make the crust, start by toasting the almond flour in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes until golden brown. This helps dry the flour out a bit to help absorb the butter, but also brings out the lightly nutty taste.
Let it cool slightly, then mix it in a medium-sized bowl with the powdered sweetener, cinnamon and melted butter.
Line the bottom of a pie tin (mine was 20cm diameter) with parchment paper, and press the buttered almond onto the base and about 15mm up the sides. Make sure you compact it well with your fingertips, and get a (more or less) even thickness all round.
Chill while you prepare the filling.
To make the Panna Cotta, place the cream, the buttermilk (or more cream), the sweetener, vanilla and agar agar in small pot.
Bring to a gentle boil, and then simmer for 8min stirring frequently. Do check the instructions on your agar agar packet though, because your might require a bit more/less boiling time to activate.
After this time, remove from the heat and stir in the kefir (or yoghurt) until well incorporated.
The pie crust should be nicely chilled and more set by now. Still in the pie tin, place a colander over the almond base and pour the Panna Cotta into it.
Give the tin a gentle shake to evenly distribute the filling across the base, and chill for 1hour or so, until the filling has set.
After it’s properly set, carefully take the pie out of the tin and add your toppings of choice (or leave it blank, and add the toppings on the side at each serving).
Troubleshooting: Agar Agar is not necessarily easy to work with: it can set like a rock, so it’s a fine balance between a runny jelly and rubbery one. If you are unsure of how much to use, and don’t trust the instructions on the packet, you can alway test this. Place a tablespoon of the boiled cream mix on a small bowl, and let it sit for 10min. Prod it with your finger after this time – it should have some structure to it. If very runny still, boil it a bit longer, or add a tiny bit more agar agar and repeat the boiling process. If it’s too hard and rubbery