From our small corner of the planet we have watched the events of the past weeks unfold with increasing befuddlement. In a political climate where elections can be won by garnering the support of the hateful at worst, the scared at best, I have felt an urge to hold fast to the simple things. Things that make sense. Things that are pure in their simplicity and enjoyment. On a hot day like today it’s a small clam shaped plastic pool filled with cool water, small feet splashing and a dog chasing the hose. In keeping with our mood, we’re enjoying a lovely vegan banana split panna cotta. Simple to make and simple to enjoy.
Perhaps when the dust has settled I will appreciate Trump’s campaign as the brilliant strategy it was; to win the unwinnable race he motivated the previously silent voter to join him. But now, in this moment, I can only feel a little sick in the stomach that his hate-mongering messages found willing ears. And so many of them.
I look at my daughter and pray when she is old enough, should a man such as he ever approach her in a bar she’ll have the wisdom and instinct to look the other way.
Perhaps it will all work out. Maybe the universe has a plan. Trump does appear to be eating many of his campaign words like shrimp puffs at a cocktail party; perhaps the hate-vomit was simply the vehicle to get to the destination.
I am just thinking aloud.
Most definitely I am oversimplifying as only one living on the other side of the world can. I do hope for better things for North America and perhaps this man is the harbinger of better things. We did put man on the moon so stranger things have happened.
But now on to simpler, less taxing thoughts. This vegan banana split panna cotta was, in the beginning, not simple. A good panna cotta is determined by its wobble. My search for the perfect wobble was met with strange solidified bases (coconut milk in a can), odd textures (soaked cashews) and crime scene effects (the addition of raspberries). It took many attempts and drawing boards before I found the perfect wobble. But, once the wobble was got, the wobble stayed. The base recipe for this vegan banana split panna cotta works. And works every time.
Silky and smooth this recipe is so simple to make. Using coconut milk from a carton instead of a can I overcame solidification issues* and set the mixture with agar agar, a plant-based gelatine substitute available in most supermarkets. While you can blend flavours in to the mix such as mango, chocolate or caramel I have stuck to light vanilla bean coconut milk and added a sinfully sticky caramel sauce, fresh banana and peanuts. All the nostalgia of a soda shop banana spilt made lighter and lovelier with feathery panna cotta.
So as things get a little more confusing outside of our house amongst the trees we hold on to simple pleasures. An old creaky swing and a spoonful of banana split. Enjoy.
* I know many bloggers use canned coconut milk with lovely results – check out this gorgeous Ginger Coconut Panna Cotta from Amber at Quite Good Food – but I found it tricky. I believe in my case there was much user error. I used the carton variety instead; it can be found in the same aisle as almond and nut milks.
Vegan Banana Split Panna Cotta
Perfectly wobbly, this vegan banana split panna cotta is a lovely and delicate version of the ice-cream banana split complete with nuts and caramel sauce.
- 400 ml coconut milk (I used milk from a carton not a can)
- 1 1/2 tbs raw sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 tsp agar agar flakes
- 2 tbs warm water
- 1/4 cup raw sugar such as demera
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup raw peanuts
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch sea salt
- 1 ripe banana, thinly sliced.
In a small bowl, combine the warm water and agar agar flakes to bloom - about five minutes.In a small saucepan combine the coconut milk, raw sugar, vanilla and agar agar (including the water).On low to medium heat, bring the mixture up to a boil before reducing the heat and simmering for five minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 7 minutes. Strain the mixture in to a jug before pouring in to small jars or ramekins. If you want to tip the panna cotta out on to the plate, lightly grease the container first. Set on the counter for 15 minutes to cool before placing in the fridge for 2 hours to set. For the caramel sauce, combine the raw sugar, water, vanilla and sea salt in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat.Watching carefully, allow the caramel to bubble away for around 3 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Stir in the peanuts and set aside.To serve, remove the set panna cotta from the fridge and place thinly sliced banana on top. To finish ,spoon a good amount of peanut caramel sauce over the top and serve.