Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Pina Colada Panna Cotta

The first dairy free dessert I ever made was 'Pina Colada Ice Cream.' I was 2 days post surgery and was staying at my parents' house andI wanted ice cream. At this point in my life I had been off dairy for almost 2 years, but I still wanted ice cream.
I found a dairy free ice cream recipe that we had all the ingredients for. The only problem was that my parents don't have an ice cream maker. So, we made it old school by putting the ice cream mixture in a baggie inside a bag of ice and shaking it. It was a lot of work, but so worth it.

I loved the fact I was eating ice cream again, but I especially enjoyed it because the flavor combination of pineapple and coconut is simply magical. So, when I bought some fresh coconut the other day I knew that it would be paired with coconut. No choice in the matter.

As I started to contemplate what to make with this coconut and pineapple, I kept thinking desserts, but wanted something that wouldn't be too sweet and would capitalize on the pineapple goodness. I also wanted to find a way to add gelatin to this goodness, but knew in the back of my mind that pineapple and gelatin don't play well together. In case you've heard that and wondered what it was all about, there is a chemical in pineapple called bromelain which can digest protein. This is what makes pineapple a natural meat tenderizer. So, if you put fresh pineapple together with gelatin, the bromelain basically eats the protein in the gelatin which keeps it from gelling. Thankfully this chemical reaction can be stopped if your pineapple is cooked (or at least heated to 160F/70C). 

Once I had the science figured out, it was time to start making flavor magic. I added some honey, ginger and water to the chopped pineapple in a pot and let it simmer away. After it cooled a bit, I blended it up. Pineapple yumminess done.

For the coconut aspect of the treat, I decided to let the coconut stand up for itself and simply added some gelatin to a can of coconut milk.

One thing to always keep in mind when it comes to treats is that while on AIP treats should be limited to keep blood sugar in check. We also need to be careful of fructose levels, so even fruit sweetened desserts like this one should be saved for special occasions. 

**A note about "AIP Treats": While it is true that these panna cotta and other treats on this blog are made with AIP friendly ingredients, it should be noted that the AIP diet is primarily about nutrient density and healing and with that in mind treats should be reserved for special occasions. This are occasional foods, not everyday food. Treat often are higher in sugar content (even fruit) and as sugar causes inflammation for many of us following AIP, we need to make treats an occasional part of our lives.

Pina Colada Panna Cotta
Serves: 4
Time: 30 minutes + 2 hours chilling time

2 cups pineapple - chopped (1 whole pineapple)
1 cup water
2 T honey
1 t ginger
1 can coconut milk
1 T + 1/2 t Gelatin (3/4 T if not eating the same day not eating it the same day)

- add pineapple, water, honey & ginger to a pot
- bring to a boil and simmer until the water is almost all cooked out
- add 1/2 t gelatin to the pineapple mixture, transfer to a food processor and blend well
- pour 1/2 can of coconut milk into a pot and sprinkle 1T gelatin over it (if you won't be eating it that day, or want a creamier consistency only use 3/4 T)
- let it set for a minute and then whisk the gelatin into the coconut milk
- heat the coconut milk until just before boiling and whisk until the gelatin all dissolves
- remove from heat and add remaining coconut milk
- add 3 T of the pineapple mixture and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth
- let the coconut mixture cool slightly on the counter (about 10 minutes)
- pour coconut mixture into glasses or molds and place in the fridge
- let coconut mixture chill for about 30 minutes - it should be starting to set up at this point
- carefully spoon the pineapple mixture on top of the coconut milk and return to the fridge until completely set
- let panna cotta chill for 1-2 hours before serving

  • 1 T of gelatin will result in a firm panna cotta, but if you're eating it that day it's still a good texture/consistency. 3/4 T gelatin will result in a smoother, creamer texture (but it's less gelatin goodness for you).
  • If you use 1T and save it until the next day, you may want to use a fork to whisk it all up again before eating to have less of a gelatin texture
  • If you chill in a mold, consider just chilling the coconut mixture and leaving the gelatin out of the pineapple mixture. Once set, tip the panna cottas out of the molds onto plate and spoon the pineapple mixture over top.