Sugar Free Agar Panna Cotta with Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce: just 2.8g carbs
Here is another classic dessert made healthy and low carb. Panna cotta is a delicious Italian spoon dessert that has gained popularity worldwide since the 90s. From Masterchef to home cooks everywhere, panna cotta versions keep springing up everywhere. The traditional ingredients of panna cotta are cream, vanilla, gelatine and sugar.
Well, my version took absolutely ages to perfect. But I did it in the end!
The story behind my Sugar Free Agar Panna Cotta with Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce
Yes, I know it may sound ridiculous that ketofication of such a simple dessert should take long. I assure you that it wasn’t as simple as it might seem.
First of all, I used the same ingredients as in the classic Italian recipe, but I replaced sugar with my usual combination of stevia and erythritol. The result was too dry and too sweet. Plus there was an element of crystallisation that made my panna cotta taste kind of gritty, albeit in a pleasant way. Not a good start.
Then I decided that I would rather use something else instead of gelatine. I’m not against gelatine when obtained the do-it-yourself way, with animal bones and cartilage, but who has the time and patience for that? And who knows what nasties go into packaged gelatine? So my next attempts employed a variety of alternatives, such as LBG and arrowroot. At each attempt, my panna cotta was still too sweet, too dry, too lumpy or too slimy.
Agar Agar. A little goes a long way.
Eventually I started experimenting with Agar Agar. Again, it was not straight forward. Despite using Agar weight guides, I just wasn’t able to get the right ‘wobble’ for my panna cotta. And I wasn’t able to get rid of the ‘grittiness’ either. In the end, I realised that erythritol was somehow reacting with the heated cream and was crystallising. So I removed it from the recipe, leaving just stevia as a sweetener.
Without the drying and grit effect of erythritol, my recipe was getting closer to the real thing every time. But not quite right yet. Only when I realised that not all Agar Agar is the same, did I manage to get the right consistency for my recipe. But believe me when I tell you that I must have made this recipe dozens of times before I was happy with it.
Most noteworthy, it didn’t help that both my kitchen scales fluctuate a few grams and were therefore not suitable for measuring Agar. To avoid inconsistent results, I even bought (inexpensive) precision scales that weigh 1/100th of a gram (U.S. option HERE). Finally, I had the right sweetness, the right consistency, the right ‘wobble’ every time. Hurray!!!!
How to make Sugar Free Agar Panna Cotta with Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce
This has to be the easiest dessert in the world. Just put all ingredients in a saucepan, whisk away while simmering over low heat and 5 minutes later you’re done. Pour into your favourite moulds, allow it to cool to room temperature and refrigerate. While it sets in the fridge, you’ll have plenty of time to make a sauce to serve it with.
The recipe below has instructions for Sugar Free Agar Panna Cotta with Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce. If you don’t like hazelnuts (also known as filberts or cobnuts) or you want to make something quicker, you have plenty of other choices.
Here are 2 of my favourite options:
- STRAWBERRY COULIS. 100g of strawberries, a few blueberries to intensify the colour, a tbsp of lemon juice and a little stevia is all you need for this one. Just simmer berries and lemon for a few minutes until mushy, press through a fine mesh sieve, add stevia or sweetener of choice and let it cool down before serving.
- CHOCOLATE SAUCE. Melt sugar free or high cocoa chocolate (I use Montezuma’s 100%), add cream on a 1:1 ratio, stir until nicely blended and serve.
I hope you enjoy my Sugar Free Agar Panna Cotta with Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce!
- Yield: 6
- Serving size: 1
- Calories: 564
- Fat: 60g
- Net Carbs: 2.8g
- Protein: 2.8g
- 600ml cream (35% fat)
- 1 tsp vanilla paste (U.S. option HERE or make your own
- 1 tsp pure stevia powder (U.S. option HERE)
- 2g agar agar (a bit less than 1 tsp) (U.S. option HERE) N.B. USE PRECISION SCALES - SEE FOOTNOTES
- whisk all ingredients inside a medium heavy-base saucepan.
- continue to whisk as you bring the mixture to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and whisk from time to time.
- after 5 minutes, transfer to individual moulds (silicone moulds will make it easier to pop the panna cotta out)
- allow to cool down completely, refrigerate until set and serve.
- using a coffee grinder or similar, grind nuts until powdery.
- add hazelnut oil and grind again until you obtain a smooth paste.
- melt chocolate over a bain-marie or in the microwave on low setting.
- add hazelnut paste to chocolate, incorporate Sukrin Icing 'sugar' and mix until smooth.
Metric kitchen scales are an inexpensive yet invaluable gadget to enable accurate measurement of ingredients. Store them upright in a cupboard or over your worktop and they'll only take up a tiny bit of space. Click HERE for the PRECISION ones I use (UK Link). For U.S. option click HERE.
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