I love the technique of using gelatin in place a recipe that usually employs eggs as a thickener. That’s because eggs are quite fickle. They break when the temperature is too high. They don’t thicken enough if the temperature is too low.
I first learned of this technique when I was working as a pastry cook. A pastry chef friend told me that you should try to take one or two recipes from every place you work at and create a repertoire, sort of speak. The gelatin panna cotta recipe was one of these recipes because it is ridiculously easy and fail-proof, but the results are amazing.
When I started experimenting with vegan recipes, I decided to try the recipe with agar agar as opposed to gelatin. Agar flakes are different from agar sheets and agar sheets are different from agar powder, so make sure to check for equivalencies.
I was worried about the results, at first, because I knew agar would not be as springy as gelatin, but to my surprise, even though the textures are slightly different, the agar panna cotta still came out very creamy.
In addition to the vegan substitute, I partnered up with SweetLeaf, a stevia brand company to do the recipe. It’s sort of an annoyance I have with various diets that no one really addresses the issue of sugar . I see vegans and vegetarians go to diary and egg-free bakeshops and eat whatever they want. That’s because for most diets, sugar doesn’t violate any of the restrictions. Even if you opt to go with maple syrup or honey or whole dates, those ingredients still comprise of sugars and having too much of it puts huge strains on the body leading to various illnesses.
I opted to go with SweetLeaf’s toffee flavored “Sweet Drops” because I think the flavor of burnt caramel pairs wonderfully with creamy panna cotta. I mentioned in the video that the brilliance of this recipe is that you can substitute toffee for any of the other flavors SweetLeaf has and you have a completely new panna cotta.
I personally prefer toffee or chocolate because stevia does leave a bit of a bitter aftertaste. Because toffee and chocolate naturally have bitter undertones, the result of the stevia aftertaste is mitigated. My recommendation for people new to stevia is still to opt for half stevia and half your usual sweetener. I can hardly tell there is a substitute when I do this.