Make Ahead

Lemongrass Panna Cotta

June  2, 2011
1 Ratings
  • Makes 8 4-oz servings
Author Notes

I wanted to make a panna cotta for a large buffet-style dessert spread. Not knowing how warm it would be on the day of the party, I decided to use agar agar to thicken it. Agar agar will remain a lovely texture at temperatures that would liquify gelatin. I love the delicate, floral, lemony flavor of lemongrass so decided to use it in the panna cotta. I served it with a rhubarb raspberry compote (adapted from an Epicurious recipe for Rhubarb and Ginger Brioche Bread Pudding.) It was a success, and one of the first desserts to disappear at the party.

While panna cotta may seem like a crazy picnic option, the agar agar will hold up at warmer temperatures (you can literally heat it up in a 350º oven for several minutes to warm it, and it will stay firm.) Use a ramekin or a disposable plastic wine glass for a nice presentation. You can serve it plain, but it's especially good with a drizzle of berry coulis or a dollop of macerated berries or rhubarb sauce. It is a fresh, light, and unexpected dessert to serve at your next picnic, barbecue, or dinner party. —hardlikearmour

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced
  • zest from one medium to large lemon or 1 bruised kaffir lime leaf
  • 2 & 1/8th teaspoons agar agar powder
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch salt
  1. Combine milk, 2 cups heavy cream, lemongrass, and lemon zest or lime leaf in a medium saucepan. Heat on low for 20 to 30 minutes to infuse the lemongrass flavor into the liquid. Stir occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile combine remaining cup of heavy cream and agar agar powder in a glass measure. Allow mixture to rest while the lemongrass mixture is heating.
  3. Add agar agar mixture, sugar, and salt to the lemongrass mixture. Increase the heat to medium-high and heat to 170º F, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and when temperature has reduced to 120º F pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a 4-cup glass measure or small pitcher. Pour the panna cotta into individual ramekins. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.
  4. Serve as is, or top with berry coulis, macerated berries, or rhubarb sauce.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Panfusine
  • Sagegreen
  • Couldn't Be Parve
    Couldn't Be Parve
  • mrslarkin
  • hardlikearmour
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

9 Reviews

Shit 5. January 20, 2021
Absolutely horrendous texture. Even half the agar would still yield a cream that is much closer to extra firm tofu than panna cotta. Last recipe I ever try from Food 52!
Panfusine June 17, 2011
Dont you just LOVE agar?? its soo versatile!
hardlikearmour June 17, 2011
I do love it! It's wonderful stuff.
Sagegreen June 12, 2011
This sounds wonderful. Since I don't live by Irish moss anymore, I will have to try out agar agar.
hardlikearmour June 12, 2011
I've become a big fan of agar agar - it sets up well w/o becoming rubbery, and holds up at higher temperatures (you can even warm it in a 350º oven for a few minutes.)
Couldn't B. June 12, 2011
This looks absolutely delicious!
hardlikearmour June 12, 2011
Thanks! I have fallen in love with the flavor of lemongrass.
mrslarkin June 2, 2011
Sounds wonderful! Putting agar agar on the shopping list.
hardlikearmour June 2, 2011
you can find the powdered stuff at Asian markets. The flaked stuff you can find at Whole Foods - I'd pulverize it before using as it takes a LONG time to dissolve.