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iterally translated, maja blanca means “white lady” and refers to the creamy white consistency of this sweet coconut pudding. Although the pudding is usually thickened with cornstarch, I prefer using powdered gelatin as it yields a smoother and creamier consistency.
The use of sweet corn in a dessert is not unusual in the Philippines. In this case, the corn adds sweetness as well as texture to the panna cotta. If fresh sweet corn isn’t in season or unavailable, you can opt to use 1 cup (250 g) of frozen corn kernels instead, or omit the corn altogether for a completely smooth panna cotta.
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus overnight to set up
Cooking time: 30 minutes
1 cup (250 g) of fresh sweet white corn kernels (from about 1 large ear), or 1 cup (250 g) frozen corn kernels
2 cups (500 ml) canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
½ cup (100 g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cold water
2 ½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
½ cup (20 g) sweetened shredded coconut
Combine the corn kernels, coconut milk, cream and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture just begins to bubble. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour the cold water into a large bowl, and then sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for 5 minutes. Pour the warm coconut milk mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Evenly divide the panna cotta mixture between six ramekins or glasses. Cover each panna cotta with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight until completely firm.
Preheat the oven to 325° F (160° C).
Spread the shredded coconut into an even layer on a baking sheet. Place the coconut in the oven and toast until golden brown, stirring once, 8-10 minutes.
Remove the panna cotta from the refrigerator and uncover. Serve each panna cotta garnished with the toasted coconut.
Marvin Gapultos is the author of the celebrated food blog, Burnt Lumpia (www.burntlumpiablog.com), and was the founder of Los Angeles’ first gourmet Filipino food truck, The Manila Machine. His first cookbook entitled, "The Adobo Road Cookbook: A Filipino Food Journey--From Food Blog, to Food Truck, and Beyond" is available for sale at Barnes and Noble bookstores, as well as from Amazon. Check out his Amazon site: http://amzn.to/TGDEAP
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