Mango panna cotta is a delicious fruity twist on the classic Italian creamy dessert. It's smooth and light with a wonderful flavor. The perfect make-ahead dessert!
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Mango has always been one of my favorite fruits, I love the sweet juiciness and aromatic flavor. We've certainly appreciated them being in season so many months of the year while we've been in Australia and have explored new varieties, too.
While we love them just as they are, they are also perfect to make into simple recipes too. My mango passion fruit Eton mess was a big hit, and the kids will take any excuse for a fruit salad, whether a full-on tropical fruit salad with lime dressing or more simple.
This panna cotta variation was also an immediate hit. The combination of smooth, creamy dessert and the fruity flavor is hard to resist. Plus it's so handy that its made ahead, too.
What is panna cotta?
If you haven't already come across it, panna cotta is a traditional Italian dessert that's effectively a set, sweetened cream. You combine gelatin with warmed cream and sugar then pour it into moulds. Sometimes you thin the cream with part milk and you often flavor it with vanilla.
The mixture sets when it chills in the fridge to give a gently wobbly but wonderfully cool and creamy dessert. It works really well with a fruit compote, for example, but there's no set way of serving it.
Some of the great things about the dessert include that it's simple, made ahead and easy to customize with different flavor additions. I've made an apple panna cotta and peach panna cotta before, but this mango variation might take the lead as a favorite.
Some mango variations simply use a plain vanilla base then add mango sauce on top, or make it into a jello/jelly to make it stripe-like. I decided to add mango both into the panna cotta and on top. This way, you get more of the mango flavor in every bite.
Unlike my peach variation, I chose to make more of a mango sauce rather than just a simple puree to use in this. While it takes a little longer to prepare, it has two benefits - the flavor is a bit stronger and the mixture is thicker, which helps with it setting.
Making and using mango sauce
The mango sauce in this might be described as a mango coulis. It's basically a slightly thickened and sweetened puree, with a touch of citrus. And it's really easy to make.
All you do is puree the mango then heat it with a little lime and sugar. If your mango happens to be stringy, you might want to strain it first to remove fibers, depending on your blender. Once the sauce thickens slightly, just leave it to cool.
It can be a good idea to make extra, as you can use it in lots of other ways, too. It makes a delicious topping for ice cream, pour it over pound cake or mix into yogurt, for example.
This mango panna cotta has a wonderful combination of fruity flavor and smooth, creamy texture. It's easy to make, handily made ahead and delicious any time you choose.
Try these other make ahead desserts:
- Strawberry mousse
- No bake chocolate custard with ginger
- Crema Catalana (similar to crème brûlée)
- Coffee panna cotta
- Plus get more dessert recipes in the archives.
Mango panna cotta
For mango sauce
- 1 cup mango cut in chunks
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
For rest of panna cotta
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon gelatin (powder)
- ⅓ cup heavy cream double cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
To make mango sauce
- Place the mango, lime and sugar for the sauce in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Transfer the puree to a small saucepan and warm over a medium heat to bring it to a simmer. Cook, stirring regularly, for around 10 minutes until it has thickened slightly (will likely reduce by around ¼ to ⅓ and be slower to re-join behind a spatula drawn through the mixture). Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Alternatively, make ahead and chill.
To make panna cotta
- Put the milk in a small bowl and add the gelatin. You can either just leave it or gently stir first (check method suggested on packet) then leave approx 5min to bloom (as you prepare cream). The gelatin will absorb liquid and become more of a wobbly solid.
- Measure out ⅓ cup (80ml) of the mango puree ready to use. Gently warm the cream and sugar in a small pan over a medium-low heat. You just want to warm the mixture enough to dissolve the sugar, but don't let the mixture boil.
- Remove the cream from the heat and add the milk-gelatin mixture and the ⅓ cup of mango puree and mix all well.
- Divide the mixture between two ramekins/custard dishes or glasses and chill for at least 2 hours.
- Once the panna cotta has set, spoon over the remaining mango sauce on top of the panna cotta and spread to forma thin layer. If you like, top with eg a little whipped cream and some small chunks of mango.
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