I so wanted to “put the lime in the coconut” for this recipe, and I actually did put some lime earlier in the caramel sauce on a recipe test run, but it turned out to overpower the subtle delicate flavor of the coconut.
I still may tinker with this recipe, maybe even remake it into something else, so if I can figure out how to add lime flavor so that it complements the coconut without overpowering it, I’ll update this post!
This recipe takes me back to Guam and the Philippines, were it was common to eat steamed and sticky coconut rice desserts that were sometimes rolled in ground-up coconut meat or nuts, and wrapped in banana leaves.
Anyways, this process of tweaking recipes and presenting something that I think is worthwhile to make, is something I love about food blogging. This recipe is fairly simple and straightforward. I hope you enjoy!
14 fluid ounces, 1 can coconut milk
14 fluid ounces, sweetened coconut cream, Coco Lopez brand
14 fluid ounces whole milk
1 vanilla bean
2 1/2 Tablespoons unflavored gelatin (or three individual (2.5 tsp.) packets)
macadamia caramel sauce (see recipe below)*
Pour the coconut milk, coco lopez, and whole milk together into a saucepan on a stove top over medium heat. Split the vanilla bean and add contents into the milk mixture and stir with a whisk to disperse into the mixture. Put the emptied outer part of bean into mix as well.
Stir occasionally, until it just starts to boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes to steep.
Remove about 3/4 cup of the milk mixture and place into a medium bowl, and sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the liquid, quickly whisking it to incorporate the gelatin. Pour the rest of the milk mixture into the bowl with the gelatin and whisk to in corporate well.
Pour mixture into dariole or jumbo cupcake molds, then place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. This can be done up to 2 days before serving.
To serve, place molds in a pan with hot water for a moment to loosen, then overturn gently onto plate or serving tray. Top with caramel sauce, macadamia nuts, and toasted flaked coconut, if desired.
*macadamia caramel sauce
1 1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, toasted* and roughly chopped
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted* (optional)
Place sugar and water in a saucepan. Make sure that all of the sugar is wet by dragging your finger in circles at the bottom of the saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat. Let it boil until it starts to turn brown, which could take several minutes.
You want it to be fairly dark amber, but not burned. If you take it out too soon, when just a little brown, you’ll get a lighter caramel sauce. You want to try and get a deep amber color.
When you see the desired color you want, turn off stove and remove from heat.
The next step requires a little caution.
Carefully pour cream into the pot and immediately start whisking it. There will be intense bubbling and steam rising up quickly, so you’ll need to practice caution that your hands and face aren’t along the path of the steam and bubbles! This is the fun part of making a caramel sauce, but a little dangerous.
You may notice that it might be seizing a little while you whisk. Just keep whisking. It will eventually come together. Some people add a little vanilla extract, a pat of butter and salt, for complexity, but this particular recipe works better without a more complex caramel, since the coconut flavor is a little delicate, I think.
The original recipe for the caramel indicates that one should add the coconut and macadamia nuts to the caramel. Though it was still crispy and crunchy after adding it into the caramel, I felt that for this panna cotta recipe, it looked much better and was crispier and crunchier when added over the caramel sauce.
*to toast macadamia nuts or coconut, I used a 275 degree oven and spread the nuts on a parchment paper lined baking sheet for several minutes, stirring occassionally to ensure that they didn’t burn.