Elegant, ivory white and melt in the mouth, this sublime treat is a blend of coconut and pandan – Asia’s classic dessert duo – tinged with the seductive surprise of orange. There is just enough gelatine to make the pannacottas voluptuous and not too firm (but if you live in the tropics as I do, you might need to add more). I love these served with a drizzle of palm-sugar syrup, but I also sometimes serve them topped with a spoonful of Black Rice Pudding (page 208) for a dramatic colour contrast. Either way, it is a dessert you almost have to dress up for!
The pannacottas set overnight so you need to begin this recipe a day ahead.
1½ tablespoons white sugar
3 tablespoons water
310 ml coconut milk
2 pandan leaves, tied together in a loose knot
2 wide strips of orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 titanium-strength gelatine leaf
400 ml cream
Palm sugar syrup
250 g palm sugar, roughly chopped
250 ml water
Put the white sugar and water in a heavy-based saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the coconut milk, pandan leaves, orange zest and vanilla and simmer over
low heat for 15 minutes to infuse the flavours into the milk.
Meanwhile, soften the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Squeeze the water from the gelatine and add to the hot coconut milk, stirring to dissolve the gelatine.
Pour the cream into a large bowl. Strain the coconut milk onto the cream, removing the pandan leaves and orange zest, and stir to combine.
Lightly oil 6 x 125 ml-capacity dariole moulds, ramekins or elegant glasses. Place them on a tray and fill with the cream mixture. Refrigerate overnight.
To make the palm sugar syrup, put the sugar and water in a heavy-based saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, then simmer without stirring for around 15 minutes, until roughly reduced by half. When small bubbles appear on the surface, remove from the heat immediately. Strain into a jug and leave to cool.
To serve the pannacottas, run a knife around the insides of the moulds and turn onto plates. (Or if using glasses you can serve them as they are.) Drizzle with a little palm sugar syrup.
> Makes 6