Chocolate Panna Cotta – Notta

by Pamela

Chocolate Panna Cotta Chocolate Panna Cotta

We’ve been eating a little differently around here lately.  I was on a detox/cleanse for 21 days.  It wasn’t one of those weird water deals though, this one actually had real food as part of it.  I like food way too much to give it up.  But I am always willing to try new foods and recipes.  So I’ve actually had a lot of fun coming up with new recipes to enjoy while I’ve been on the cleanse.  If you want to see more of those recipes, you can find them here.)

While Craig was not partaking in the cleansing process, he was eating the same foods as I have been…and he really liked them.  This panna cotta dessert, for instance just showed up on his plate one night after dinner.  I didn’t tell him anything about it, other than it was chocolate.  If I had told him there was no dairy in it and it was really good for him, he wouldn’t have touched it.  After taking a bite, he asked me if it was good for him?  When I told him that it was, he didn’t believe me and continued eating.

Words of Wisdom

If you are changing your diet around, eating healthier…vegetarian…gluten free…dairy free, and you have a guy in your life you have a big decision to make.  Do you tell him or not?  If I change my eating habits, I generally don’t say anything to Craig about it and just go about making food as usual.  Mostly because I don’t want to deal with his rhetoric.  I have generally found that he really likes the “new” food.  At some later point I will tell him what I have been doing,  and I have found that the changes go much smoother.

I call this dessert, chocolate panna cotta – notta because true panna cotta has heavy cream and whole milk and this one does not.  But it has all of the rich flavors and cool creamy silkiness of a dairy filled panna cotta.

Serves 4


  • 2 Cups Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract*
  • 1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Agave Nectar
  • 4 Teaspoons Agar Agar Powder


In a saucepan add almond milk and agar agar, let it sit for 5 minutes to allow agar agar to soften.

In a medium bowl add cocoa powder, coconut oil, and agave nectar – stir to combine ingredients thoroughly and set aside.

Bring almond milk and agar and agar and vanilla to a simmer then reduce and cook for 8 minutes.  Add chocolate mixture and stir to combine for 30 seconds.  Remove from heat.

Pour into 4 ramekins or small glasses.  (Use ramekins if you plan to turn out onto plates.  Use glasses if you intend to serve panna cotta’s in their own containers.)

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To release panna cotta from ramekins – run a knife around edges of panna cotta and place individual ramekin into warm water for approximately 30 seconds.  Put plate on top of ramekin and turn over to release panna cotta from ramekin.

Top with chopped almonds and flaked coconut for extra flair.

*You can also use a vanilla bean, instead of vanilla extract in this recipe.  Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds.  Place the pod and seeds in the almond milk and agar agar mixture just before you start to simmer the mixture.  Remove the pods before adding in the chocolate.

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Becky October 21, 2016 at 8:43 am

Hi Pamela, I’m planning to practice this recipe tonight for a dinner party on Sunday evening just to get it down and in my head. Quick question- what is the longest I can leave this in the refrigerator to firm up? I have a really busy weekend, and if I could make it tonight ahead of time tonight for Sunday, I would love that. But I can cook it Sunday afternoon if needed.
Also the pictures are gorgeous, did you do anything special to get the sheen/glaze on the panna cotta?

Pamela October 21, 2016 at 8:55 am

Hi Becky, I would make this Sunday afternoon, or the night before, (for best results). I didn’t do anything to get the sheen, that just naturally occurs when you make this. Enjoy!!!

zee July 13, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Ok i tried this yesterday, it tasted horrible. the coconut oil in the recipe was a massive fail. It has overpowering taste and smell of a hair product. I used 100% organic raw coconut oil for cooking. I would be willing to do this with coconut cream once i recover from the shocking taste of this desert.

Pamela July 14, 2013 at 8:27 am

I’m sorry you didn’t like this Zee. If you use coconut cream you’ll need to play with the amount of agar agar you use because the coconut oil helps with the firming up of the dessert.

Vicky May 10, 2012 at 7:16 am

Can;t wait to try this! I’ve been looking for a vegan panna cotta recipe and this sounds perfect!

Pamela May 10, 2012 at 8:07 am

Hi Vicky, I think you’ll really like this. Plus, I have another one that uses matcha powder in place of the chocolate This is my favorite.

Alyssa November 4, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Hi Pamela,

I found your recipe on a Clean forum and just had to try it as a chocolate sauce. I quartered your recipe as is and it turned out to be super gummy and pudding-like. I’m assuming that’s the texture you want for Panna Cotta, but I’m wondering if you any suggestions for making it more syrupy. Just add less agar agar powder, perhaps?

Fabulous recipe. I love anything chocolate and Clean!


Pamela November 6, 2011 at 10:57 am

Hi Alyssa,

Yes, the panna cotta recipe would be a bit on the gloopy side as a chocolate sauce due to the use of the agar agar (which is a vegan substitute for gelatin). For a great, clean friendly chocolate sauce you could mix cocoa with coconut oil. To make it a bit creamier, add some coconut milk or even a bit of almond milk. Experiment with the quantities to get the flavor and consistency you like (kind of depends on what you’re going to be putting the chocolate sauce on). In fact, if you like that Magic Shell stuff that makes the hard chocolate shell on ice cream, just mix cocoa powder with coconut oil and drizzle over ice cream. It hardens pretty much on contact with the cold ice cream.

p.s. melt the coconut oil before mixing it with the cocoa (and remember…a little goes a long way). 🙂

Alyssa November 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Hi Pamela – Thank you, thank you! I have been searching for a clean recipe, but haven’t tried using coconut oil – seems like such a no-brainer 🙂

I think next go around (which will probably be tonight because I have a gluten-free unfrosted chocolate cake waiting at home!!), I will skip the agar agar and just go with straight coconut oil. The flavor of the oil alone would make a stunning sauce. I am looking forward to figuring out what quantities work for me!

Eftychia February 12, 2011 at 6:16 am

What a delicious recipe. Thanks for sharing!

Iris December 22, 2009 at 5:38 pm

I don’t know why I didn’t think of that…my boyfriend never wants to try my “healthy food.” I just shouldn’t tell him what’s in it until after!

Pamela December 22, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Yep, I just don’t tell him. If he likes it –fantastic. If he doesn’t, no biggie. He doesn’t even always like the non-healthy stuff.

Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free December 22, 2009 at 10:19 am

The picture is stunning!! Would love to take a big bite. I don’t tell my hubby when I use almond milk or something different until he’s tasted it. Quite often he likes my version better or he can’t even tell the difference. 🙂

Deepa G Joshi September 8, 2009 at 8:55 am

That looks so tempting…great..

Miranda September 4, 2009 at 5:42 pm

I tried it tonight and love it! This recipe is perfect. Thank you so much!

Pamela September 5, 2009 at 9:39 am

I’m glad you liked it. You’ll have to try the the green tea version of it now.

crankycheryl September 2, 2009 at 5:22 pm

This looks great, and I’m glad to learn more about agar agar, which I haven’t been successful with in the past. Thanks for sharing!

meatlessmama September 2, 2009 at 11:04 am

I love that this is soy and canola free! I can’t wait to try this, it looks so yummy and healthy!

Alta September 1, 2009 at 9:05 am

Looks delicious!

The Chocolate Priestess September 1, 2009 at 6:09 am

That looks very interesting. What would you recommend in place of the nuts and coconut of people are allergic so simply do not like those flavors?

Pamela September 1, 2009 at 11:24 am


For nut allergies, you could use soy milk in place of the almond milk. That would work just as well. As for the coconut oil….I have not tried this, but you could try using a cold pressed canola oil to make up the chocolate mixture. I would then bump up the amount of Agar Agar powder to 5 teaspoons. (coconut oil firms up dramatically when it’s refrigerated, so you will need some additional gelling agent to help it firm up.)

If you refrigerate the panna cotta for 2 hours and find that it’s not setting up enough, you can take the containers and put them back into a saucepan. Stir to thoroughly combine and add more agar agar powder. Let sit for 5 minutes, to soften, then re-heat as the recipe indicates. Pour into molds and refrigerate. (That’s one of the benefits of working with agar agar, you can keep re-working it to get to the consistency you want.)

Tokyogirl September 1, 2009 at 5:18 am

That looks amazing and so delicious!

Angelia McGowan August 31, 2009 at 6:01 pm

That looks very good, I have not tried almond milk yet, but want too, thanks for sharing this post!

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