Dairy-Free Espresso and Chocolate Panna Cotta – Project Healthy in Italy

The Italians have a love affair with espresso, or what they just refer to as “coffee”.

( I can’t wait to learn more about this when I go to Italy for my new project ” Project Healthy in Italy read here)

I love this small, strong brew just as much as the Italians do, and have an espresso maker that makes the best espresso (and aroma) in my very own kitchen. You can see the actual maker in my photo below. 🙂

Coffee is a good source of antioxidants. And as long as you don’t overdue it, and hydrate as well, it is actually a healthy staple to add to your diet. Of course, without added sugar or cream…

Panna cotta on the other hand means “cooked cream” in Italian and is a classic Italian dessert from the region of Piedmont. You have probably made it before, or at least tasted it somewhere. It is basically just cream, sugar and gelatine.

My version however ( Italians, please don’t be mad at me!;))is a healthier  panna cotta and is made without dairy or refined sugar.  I also use antioxidant-rich raw cacao and brewed espresso for a flavour twist and for a nutrient boost. My panna cotta is actually vegan, healthy, and yes; tasty!

You get the best of Italian flavours and traditions, but with better building blocks for your body. Recipe below…

espresso panacotta 6314 italy logo

 

I serve my panna cotta with an orange and mint syrup and something crunchy on top like an almond brittle( fine chopped almonds, roasted with maple syrup and a touch of salt) or such. But you can easily serve it just as is.

 

For the panna cotta you will need( Makes 2 portions):

  • 100 grams (1 cup) soaked, natural cashew nuts. (Non roasted or salted nuts that you soak in water for at least 8 hours then rinse before using.)
  • 7 tbs. (organic) maple syrup
  • 2 tbs. raw cacao
  • 2 dl (3/4 cup) espresso
  • 1 ts agar agar fine powder. (A vegan gelling agent made from a type of algae. Found in health food stores or finer super markets)
  • Pinch of salt (I only use Himalaya salt)

 

How to:

  1. Brew the espresso and mix with the agar powder in a pot. Bring to boil and let simmer for 2 minutes to activate and dissolve the agar. Set aside.
  2. Place the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food prosessor and add the espresso mixture. Blend until completly smooth and creamy. This may take a couple of minutes depending on the strength of your machine.
  3. Pour into moulds and set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  4. To make an orange and mynt syrup, reduce the juice of two oranges with a handfull of fresh mint and 1 tbs. of sweetner, such as honey or maple syrup. Reduce in a pan until about half the portion is left and it has turned into a syrup. Strain before serving.

 

Buon divertimento! Enjoy!


Get Your Espresso On! Healthy, Vegan Espresso Cookies.

Today I am going to share with you one of the recipes that I developed for my plant based cooking exam. I recieved top scores for these so you can rest assure they taste great!

There are a few steps but they are so fun to make and look great. They may remind you more of a french looking macaron or a whoopie pie. To save time, you can skip making your own chocolate and simply melt some high quality chocolate for dipping. But here is the full recipe for your holiday cooking…

Espresso cookies:

1 cup whole grain spelt flour
3 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut sugar
1 tbs. finely ground coffee/ espresso
2 espresso flax eggs ( 2 tbs. ground flaxseeds and ½ cup brewed espresso)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil (room temperature, but not melted)

Garnish:

Lemon chocolate dip
1/ 2 cup pistachios (toasted)

How to:

Sift all the dry ingredients including the ground coffee into a bowl and mix together. Combine the ground flaxseeds with the brewed espresso and vanilla extract to make the flax eggs. Let sit for about 5 min until it thickens. Add and mix into the dry ingredients. When combined, work the coconut oil into the mixture until dissolved.

Place the cookie dough on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and using your hand or a rolling pin flatten the dough until it is about 0,5 cm thick. Bake for 5 min. at 180 degrees.

When baked use small cookie cutters to make the cookie sandwiches and let cool on a rack.

When cool dip half of the cookie in melted chocolate and sprinkle finely chopped pistachios. Leave to set in a cool place.

Espresso cashew cream

½ cup soaked cashews
1 tbs. water
1 tbs. espresso
½ ts. vanilla extract
1 ½ tbs. maple syrup
Pinch of salt

How to:

Soak the cashews overnight in a bowl of water. Blend the cashews in a blender or food processor with the water, adding more if needed. It should have the consistency of whipped cream. When smooth add the rest of the ingredients. Add more honey if desired.

Raw lemon Chocolate

1 cup melted cocao butter
3 tbs cocoa powder
3 tbs honey
1 tbs lemonjuice
1 tbs lemon zest

How to: Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Set aside.

Assembly: Take two cookies and fill one of them with the cashew cream using a piping bag, making sure to not overfill the cookie. Make a sandwich of the two pieces.

Espresso cookies 7119.jpg