Vegan Pumpkin Panna Cotta

Vegan Pumpkin Panna Cotta

Panna cotta, a creamy custard that’s firm enough to mold (like a creamy jello) is traditionally made with gelatin. This vegan version uses agar agar, a natural gelling agent made from seaweed. Look for it in large natural grocery stores, or any Asian market. To make easy pumpkin puree that’s vastly superior to canned, cut a 3-pound pie pumpkin (not carving pumpkin) into quarters, scoop out seeds, halve each quarter, and steam pumpkin pieces for 20 minutes, or until soft. Let cool, peel off skin, and puree flesh. 

Serves 4

2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 vanilla bean
2 teaspoons agar agar powder (not flakes)
Vegan chocolate sauce
Cocoa powder for dusting

1. Combine pumpkin, coconut milk, agave, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove in a blender. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and with the tip of a sharp knife, scoop seeds into the blender. Reserve the vanilla pod. Puree until smooth and creamy. Taste and add more agave or spices, if you’d like.

2. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan. Whisk in agar agar powder until well blended. Add reserved vanilla pod. Bring to a high simmer and cook for 7 minutes, maintaining a lively simmer, but not allowing the mixture to boil, and stirring frequently. Mixture should be very thick and creamy.

3. Pour panna cotta mixture into four individual rounded dessert cups or ramekins, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until very firm. To serve, dip each ramekin into a bowl of hot water, being careful not to get water in the panna cotta, then run a butter knife around the edge of each ramekin, and invert on a small dessert plate. Top with chocolate sauce, sprinkle with cocoa powder, and serve.