Alternative Baking / Dessert / Fruit / gluten free

CNY-inspired recipe #3: Lychee Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Jelly


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One of the things I remember most fondly of reunion dinners was my grandfather’s mixed fruit cocktail dessert. It wasn’t anything fancy. In fact, it was just a mixture of canned lychees, longans and ice in a big bowl. But to me, it was full of my grandfather’s love. Every year without fail, he would proudly ask his grandchildren to guess what was for dessert. When we got the answer correct, which we always did, he would be extremely pleased. As kids, my cousins and I were always excited about the dessert (which kid wouldn’t be ecstatic about sugar syrup?). But as we got older, we became cognizant of the fact that there was more to dessert than canned fruit cocktail. Yet, we never failed to show excitement whenever my grandfather announced we were having canned longans and lychees for dessert, again. In fact, we may have appeared even more excited than when we were five, because we knew that this was the only dessert my grandfather knew to put together and he did so because he remembered his grandchildren loved it. So using canned lychees as an inspiration, I created this lychee panna cotta recipe as a tribute to my grandfather this CNY. And to add to the festivities, I decided to add pomegranate to provide a burst of red color, texture, and anti-oxidants while we’re at it.

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Native to modern day Iran, the pomegranate contains loads of Vit C and has been used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine.

This recipe is extremely simple (don’t be fooled by the number of steps!) and only requires a blender and a pot. In fact, this recipe is not only good for CNY, it’s perfect for the upcoming Valentine’s day as well. Oh and did I mention it’s naturally gluten-free and egg-free too? Recently, this recipe and yours truly was featured in the local newspaper The Sunday Times. When the journalist who interviewed me for the story tasted it, she said ‘your grandfather would have been proud.’  I just wish he was still alive to taste it too.

The Sunday Times (Jan 2013) - Liven Up Lychees

This recipe was originally featured in The Sunday Times (27 Jan 2013)

Lychee Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Jelly
Yields: Four 5oz shot glasses

Pomegranate jelly:
100 ml pomegranate juice
1 sheet gelatin
1 pomegranate

1. Bloom gelatin in ice-cold water for 5-10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, remove pomegranate arils from fruit. Place 5-6 arils at the bottom of each glass.

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Be careful when removing arils from the fruit as pomegranate juice stains clothes and counters easily! (I learnt it the hard way, of course)

3. Heat pomegranate juice until it just starts to boil, then remove from heat.

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If the juice is unsweetened, you can add sugar to taste

4. Squeeze softened gelatin in hands to remove excess water, then add to warm juice and stir to dissolve.

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5. Divide pomegranate juice equally between the glasses. Chill for 2 hours until set.

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For a fancy presentation, position glasses at an angle with the help of an egg carton while the jelly sets.

Lychee panna cotta:
1 large can (565g) lychees in syrup
3/8 cup (90 ml) milk
3/8 cup (90 ml) cream
3 tbsp (30g) sugar
1 1/2 sheets gelatin

1. Bloom gelatin in ice-cold water for 5-10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, drain lychees but reserve syrup. Puree lychees in a blender until smooth.

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3. Strain lychee puree with a fine-mesh strainer, using a spoon to squeeze out as much juice as possible. Top up the extracted puree with the reserved syrup until the total measures 3/4 cup (180 ml).

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4. Pour puree into a saucepot, together with milk, cream and sugar. Heat mixture until it just starts to boil, then remove from heat.

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5. Squeeze out excess water from softened gelatin, then add to lychee mixture and stir to dissolve.

6. Let mixture cool to room temperature, then divide mixture equally amongst glasses with set pomegranate jelly.

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It’s important that the mixture is cooled sufficiently before pouring it in so that it will not melt the previously set jelly

7. Chill for 2 hours until set.

8. Garnish with pomegranate arils and mint leaves before serving.

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If you missed the previous CNY-inspired recipes…

CNY-inspired recipe #2: Hummingbird Cupcakes
CNY-inspired recipe #1: Gluten-free Coconut Macaroons
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7 thoughts on “CNY-inspired recipe #3: Lychee Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Jelly

  1. Thanks for ur recipe n advice.i subtitute gelatin with agar jelly(cause im vegetarian).the taste is good.my family n friends love this menu.i will make this menu for twice 🙂
    Lychee Panna Cotta Very Yummy n Sexy 🙂

    • In case you wanna make it with agar powder like Robby, I suggest substituting the gelatin with 1/2 tsp agar powder for the jelly and 1 tsp agar powder for the lychee panna cotta. You’ll have to soak the agar powder in the liquid first, then bring it to a boil to dissolve it before it’ll set.

  2. Pingback: CNY-inspired recipe #7: Mandarin Orange Marmalade | fait maison

  3. Pingback: CNY-inspired recipe #8: 雪梅娘 Cream-filled Mochi | fait maison

    • Hi there, of course! Use 1 tbsp of powdered gelatin for every 3 sheets of gelatin. You’ll need to follow the instructions on your package for soaking and using your powdered gelatin. Hope this helps! 🙂

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