Healthy Dessert Alert: Low-Sugar Coconut Panna Cotta

Low in sugar. High in satisfaction.

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Panna cotta, which translates to “cooked cream” in Italian, is a simple, slightly sweet dessert that is somewhere between pudding and Jello. Like both of those desserts, panna cotta can come in many flavors and is often garnished with fruits and sauces.

In this episode of Eating by Heart, chef Colombe Jacobsen makes a heart-healthy coconut panna cotta that is a bit healthier while still tasting like a treat. Using coconut milk not only creates an irresistibly tropical flavor, but it is also better for lowering cholesterol than cow’s milk. In place of refined sugar, this coconut panna cotta uses maple syrup (the real stuff!) or agave for a more natural sweetness.

Another trick to lowering the sugar in this dairy-free panna cotta is using a real vanilla bean. (Learn the trick to deseeding a vanilla bean here.) Opting for a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract is an easy way to amp up the flavor of a dessert, so you can go easier on the sugar and save on calories.

This coconut panna cotta recipe contains two unique ingredients you may be less familiar with: agar-agar and arrowroot starch. Although less common in the United States, agar-agar has long been used in Asian desserts. It’s a vegetarian alternative to gelatin. Arrowroot starch works just like cornstarch, and it’s gluten-free. When used as a thickener, it creates a very silky mixture—perfect for this healthy panna cotta!

  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed
  • 4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 dashes of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon agar-agar
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
1. In a large pot, add the coconut milk and agar agar and let sit for 10 minutes. 2. Slice vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Using the tip of a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Add the arrowroot to 2 Tablespoons cold water, whisk until dissolved and reserve. 3. Bring the coconut milk and agar agar to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes or until all of the flakes are dissolved whisking frequently. 4. Add the Maple syrup, vanilla bean seeds and a pinch of sea salt. 5. Whisking gently, add the arrowroot mixture, bring to a boil and gently simmer. (This will thicken the mixture). 6. Wet 6 ramekins thoroughly and place on a tray. Pour the liquid into the ramekins and allow to cool. Finish cooling process covered in the refrigerator at least 2 hours. 7. Serve chilled with raspberries or raspberry coulis or your favorite chocolate sauce.

Nutrition Information

Recipe Serves: 6
Nutrition Information Based on a Single Serving
Calories 723%
Fat 3gr4%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 76mg3%
Carbohydrates 10gr7%
Fiber 1gr4%
Sugar 9gr18%
Protein 0gr0%

*Percent Daily Value are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Dietary Needs

Dairy Free
Dairy Free
Gluten Free
Gluten Free
Lower Carbohydrate
Lower
Carbohydrate
Lower Cholesterol
Lower
Cholesterol
Lower Sodium
Lower Sodium
Lower Sugar
Lower Sugar
Vegan
Vegan
Vegetarian
Vegetarian