Dairy-free panna cotta (GF)

I love panna cotta. Sadly, I’ve not had this beautiful, creamy Italian dessert for a long time. I tried to make a dairy-free version a couple of years ago but it was a complete, sloppy failure. Anyway, this weekend we had lots of summer fruit and it was far too hot to put the oven on to make a pudding, so I decided to dust off the packet of gelatine at the back of the cupboard and have a go.

Much to my surprise, it was a success! And really simple to make. I chose not to make the panna cotta itself too sweet as I was planning on putting fruit compote on top, but feel free to add more sugar if you want it sweeter.

I used gelatine, so this is not a vegan (or even vegetarian) dessert, just dairy-free. A vegan alternative to gelatine is agar agar, but my husband can’t digest it, so I can’t offer any tips on how to use it.

I made three different fruit toppings: strawberries macerated in sugar, raspberry compote and blackberry compote. We all enjoyed all three (even the children) but my husband and I both thought the blackberry just edged it.

You can make whatever topping you’d like – make the most of what’s in season! Peaches or apricots would work well, as would roasted rhubarb and, of course, blueberry.

Makes 4-5 ramekins


For the panna cotta:

1 7g sachet of powdered gelatine, mixed with 60ml almond milk and 60 ml boiling water (follow the instructions on the packet for preparing the gelatine – if you’re using leaf gelatine you’ll need to soak it in water and then squeeze it out instead)

300ml soya cream
200ml almond milk
3 tbsp sugar

OR use 500ml soya coffee creamer instead of cream and milk, which is already sweetened so no need for sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the fruit compote:

About 500g berries (if using stone fruit, remove the skins and stones first)
75g sugar (and more to taste)


For the panna cotta:

Put all of the ingredients except the gelatine in a medium pan and warm over a medium heat until almost boiling.

Meanwhile, prepare the gelatine according to the instructions on the packet.

Add the gelatine to the hot cream mixture and stir well. Pour into four or five ramekins and leave to cool. Once cool put the ramekins in the fridge and chill for six hours or overnight to set.

For the topping:

Put the berries in a saucepan with the sugar and warm over a medium-low heat until the fruit has collapsed and started to thicken. You might want to help it along by crushing it with a wooden spoon. Set it aside to cool.

Pour the cooled compote on to the panna cotta and chill again or enjoy immediately.

If you have any compote left over you can use it on yoghurt, ice cream, porridge…

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