During the summertime, I love all the fresh fruit that’s available, especially berries, melons, and tropical fruits like mangoes, kiwi fruit and papaya. Recently, I was sent a box of Zespri Kiwi Fruit, and had the chance to experiment with both Green Kiwi Fruit and Gold Kiwi Fruit. I have to say that I am partial to Gold Kiwi Fruit, perhaps because it’s more unusual or because I like its more tropical flavors. Now that I’ve run out of these Gold Kiwi Fruit, I’ve been on the lookout in our local supermarkets and have seen them in a few stores. Although Gold Kiwi Fruit is not as easy to spot as Green Kiwi Fruit, it’s definitely worth the effort to look for them – you won’t be disappointed.
|Zespri Gold Kiwi Fruit|
I made Kiwi Popsicles and Frosty Kiwi Coolers with the Green Kiwi Fruit, which were very quick and easy to make. However, I wanted to make something a bit fancier with the Gold Kiwi Fruit, they’re that special.
This summer, I bought a pack of agar agar from our local Asian grocery store. It perked my interest as I remember when I was growing up, my mom made some desserts using agar agar. However, after bringing it home, I didn’t know what to do with it. The agar agar I bought came in long strands. The agar agar I remember my mom using was in “bars.”
Unlike gelatin, which is derived from the collagen inside animals’ skin and bones, agar agar comes from seaweed. I never really thought about this until I googled gelatin and found that, not only is gelatin used in “JELL-O” gelatin mixes, but also gummy bears, marshmallows, and some yogurts. After I read this, I was a little grossed out – who knew?
Whereas gelatin must be refrigerated to gel, agar agar sets up at room temperature in an hour, requiring no refrigeration. That’s one thing I like about vegan foods – since there’s no dairy or eggs, there are no worries about leaving food out at room temperature for a short period of time.
When I started researching how to use the agar agar I bought, I saw that most recipes used powdered agar agar or agar agar flakes. I also noticed that the proportion of agar agar to liquid to make it gel was roughly 2 teaspoons of agar agar powder or 2 tablespoons of agar agar flakes to 2 cups of liquid.
|Agar Agar Flakes that I made by grinding Agar Agar Strands in a coffee grinder.|
One resource suggested grinding agar agar in a food processor, blender or coffee grinder. I first tried the food processor, which failed to break up the strands of agar agar. So, I cut the agar agar strips into smaller pieces and put them in the coffee grinder, and I ended up with nice agar agar flakes.
I came across a recipe for Vegetarian Vanilla Panna Cotta on the Enlightened Cooking and decided to use this as a reference. To highlight the tropical theme I wanted to convey with this dessert, I made a Mango Panna Cotta, topping it with some Zespri Golden Kiwi, Mango, and Strawberries.
Vegan Mango Panna Cotta with Fresh Fruit
I happened to have some So Delicious Passionate Mango Yogurt which was perfect for this tropical theme, but vanilla yogurt would work just as well.
|Whoops! I ran out of strawberries, but these were still really good.|
- 1 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup organic sugar
- 2 tablespoons agar agar flakes
- 1 cup So Delicious Passionate Mango Yogurt
- 1 mango (you should have about 1/2 cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Kiwi Fruit, Mango, or other fruits, cut up, for topping
- In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk, sugar and agar agar flakes. Let stand 5 minutes. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook 6-8 minutes, until agar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
- Puree mango flesh in a food processor. Add agar agar mixture to the bowl and process until smooth.
- Add yogurt and vanilla extract to bowl and process until blended.
- Divide among ramekins or dessert glasses. Cover tops with plastic wrap. Agar agar will set in 1 hour. If you are not serving it right away, transfer panna cottas to the refrigerator.
- Just before serving, top with fresh Kiwi Fruit, Mango, and any other fruit you like.