The idea for this recipe came from an article a friend sent me a few years back which was about savory panna cotta thickened with agar agar instead of the traditional gelatin. The beauty of the agar agar is that it allows the panna cotta to be served at room temperature or slightly warmed. The article contained a kabocha squash panna cotta as well as a porcini panna cotta. The recipe I came up with is a bit like a carrot soup in a more solid form. The texture is smooth and silky. The carrots lend a lovely orange hue and a subtle sweetness. It can be served at room temperature to accompany a lightly dressed green salad. It can also be served warm as a fun play on a soup course. —hardlikearmour
canola or other neutral oil
1 & 3/4 cups
water (plus additional if needed)
agar agar flakes or 1 teaspoon agar agar powder
large carrots (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into chunks
small stalk celery, cut into chunks
section of fresh rosemary stem (with leaves)
whole black peppercorns
whole allspice berries
stalks flat leaf parsley
fromage blanc, or other soft, tangy cheese
Heat oven to 400º F with rack in center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Lightly coat the inside of 4 6-oz ramekins with oil, and set aside.
Combine water, agar agar, 6 carrot chunks, celery, rosemary, bay learf, peppercorns, allspice berries, parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt in small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat, scraping bottom of pan occasionally, then reduce heat to low while you are roasting the carrots. Continue to scrape bottom of pan occasionally as the agar agar likes to settle.
Place remaining carrot chunks on prepared baking sheet, drizzle with a few tablespoons of oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with table salt. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring carrots once. They should have some caramelization and you should be able to pierce them with a fork, but they don't need to be falling apart soft.
Allow carrots to cool on pan and remove agar agar broth from heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer carrots to blender. Strain agar agar broth through fine mesh strainer into blender. Add heavy cream, goat cheese, and a pinch or two of cayenne, and additional water to bring the volume just above 2 cups. Blend until smooth, scraping down sides of blender as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, white pepper, and additional cayenne if desired, blending briefly to fully incorporate.
Evenly divide the mixture between the 4 prepared ramekins. Pick up and drop each ramekin (from an inch or so) several times to settle and help remove air bubbles that may have formed. Set aside for about an hour for the agar agar to set.
Run a thin knife around edge of panna cotta, then flip ramekin onto serving plate or bowl. Wiggle and shake a bit to release from the ramekin. Serve warm with a drizzle of cream thinned crème fraiche, a dusting of paprika, and a sprinkle of chopped parsley as a "soup" course. Serve at room temperature alongside a lightly dressed lettuce or arugula salad with a sprinkling of chopped nuts as a salad course.
NB: The panna cotta can be heated for 5 minutes at 350º F in the ramekin or on the serving plate. It gets nicely warmed and holds it shape beautifully.
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.