Make Ahead

Vegan Eggnog Panna Cotta with Gingerbread Pecan Crumble

December 23, 2022
0 Ratings
Photo by Joni Goldbach
  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2-4
Author Notes

Eggnog comes but once a year as a favored tipple for holiday parties where strings of lights and mistletoe are the preferred decor. I love the sweet, creamy vibe for a Christmas cocktail inspired dessert, but my lactose intolerant belly does not love the dairy.

TL;DR if you’d rather not hear about my recipe developing process: This is my take on vegan eggnog as a holiday party dessert with a contrasting textural topping that takes notes from gingerbread cookies and pecan pie. Add a drizzle of caramel sauce just before serving, if desired, for a full spectrum of textures that more closely aligns with my original vision for this recipe, but I think it’s simpler and dare I say just as tasty without.

As a bit of background, I’ve been playing around with agar powder for gelled desserts recently with visions of 50s dinner parties and jellied Italian, French and Spanish desserts in mind. One criticism I saw expressed frequently online (and agreed with in my own experiences) was that the texture of the final product tends to be firmer than gelatin… perhaps too firm. Could the issue be resolved by simply using less? Considering where I landed with this recipe, I think there may be more flexibility to scale the ratio of agar to liquid up or down to create the desired effect than many recipes might lead one to believe.

I had started my journey making vegan panna cotta recipes from The Minimalist Baker and Bettina Campolucci Bordi’s Celebrate and a few other food blogs — basically all with coconut milk and the same ratio of agar to liquid (1/2 teaspoon to 2 cups liquid). I tested out a few combinations of liquid with higher and lower ratios of fat and alcohol (because a boozy eggnog adaptation seemed appropriate) and varying amounts agar powder and landed at 1/4 teaspoon Now Foods agar powder to 2 cups liquid (at least 1 1/2 cups canned coconut milk or standard eggnog for the fat content, and a bit more agar when using alcohol) to end up with a jiggly, but meltingly soft texture.

If you would prefer a non-vegan version or another eggnog from the grocery store, simply use 2 cups of eggnog instead of the coconut milk, maple syrup and nutmeg. Standard eggnog will result in a slightly more custard-like texture (yes, I tested that as well), just be mindful to whisk throughout the cooking process to avoid scalding the milk. —Joni Goldbach

What You'll Need
  • 14 ounces coconut milk (1 can of full fat coconut milk, not cream)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon agar powder (use a rounded 1/4 teaspoon if adding alcohol)
  • 2 ounces bourbon or rum (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pecan pieces
  • 2-4 gingerbread cookies, ginger snaps or pepparkakor (many packaged varieties are vegan, but check the label)
  1. Whisk a can of coconut milk, maple syrup, nutmeg and agar powder together in a small saucepan. Bring your mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring as it heats up. Let it boil for about a minute before you take it off the heat. If you are adding bourbon or rum, let the pan cool for a couple of minutes before whisking it in. The consistency will be about as liquid as when you started heating it, but you’ll start to see the mixture thicken very slightly at the sides and bottom of the pan. Don’t worry, it will gel as it cools.
  2. Pour the mixture evenly between 2-4 jars, ramekins or any other container you would like to use. I like topping and serving these in individual containers for ease and portability. However, it would be fun to shape your panna cotta using a bowl or pretty jelly mold and unmold over the gingerbread pecan crumble like a pile of snow over rocky earth. Move your containers to the refrigerator to chill for about 2 hours, or until completely cooled and set.
  3. In the meantime, toast your pecans in a skillet over low to medium heat until they start smelling fragrantly nutty and begin to brown. Pour the toasted pecans into a food processor (or mortar and pestle) with the gingerbread cookies. Pulse (or bash and grind) them together until you have a nicely crumbly, granola-like mess of pecan and cookie bits. Stop before the cookies have completely powdered — it’s nice to have a little texture.
  4. When you are ready to serve, sprinkle the gingerbread pecan crumble over your panna cotta and pass around with spoons. Cheers!

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