Vanilla and Orange Panna Cotta Parfaits

Vanilla and Orange Panna Cotta Parfaits

This festive dessert featuring winter citrus, seems complex, but it’s actually quite simple. These orange and vanilla panna cotta parfaits have layer of creamy pudding with a too-fun-to-eat citrus flavored panna cotta, and crunchy pistachios on top. Heaven! Panna Cotta will quickly become your favorite light dessert to pre-make before dinner parties or for Thanksgiving dinner. Think, no mess while serving, just make in individual cordial glasses or mini ball jars and add the pistachio garnish and orange curls just before serving. 

What is Panna Cotta Anyway?

Panna cotta is a pudding thickened with gelatin. It originated in Italy and it translates to “cooked cream.” It’s often served with coulis of berries, a thin sauce made from puréed and strained fruits. It’s the perfect single serving dessert to prepare the night before a dinner party. 

What is Agar Agar?

This recipe calls for agar agar, a vegan gelatin substitute, which is a jelly-like powder derived from algae. It’s tasteless and works wonderfully for this recipe! They can be finicky dissolving, so just be patient and keep stirring until you see the tiny flakes completely dissolved. 

How to Assemble...

These are perfect for making a day ahead. Your bottom layer will be the panna cotta. Add coconut milk, sugar, and agar agar to a medium saucepan and set over medium/high heat. Bring to a boil and keep it on high for 3- 4 minutes. Keep on whisking until the flakes are completely  dissolved. Once you don’t see any flakes left, remove from heat and whisk in the orange juice. Fresh squeezed of course! Pour into your glasses and allow to cool before refrigerating. 

Make your pudding layer next. Oat milk is my go to for all things vegan desserts. It’s thick, creamy, and has enough sugar to make everything taste delicious. Whisk oat milk, sugar, and corn starch in a medium sauce pan (arrowroot powder works too) on medium heat and whisk until dissolved for 3 minutes. Lower to a simmer and guess what? Keep whisking. Seriously listen to a podcast if you’re impatient, because you have to whisk it to thicken for another ten minutes. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt, the vanilla, and allow to cool. Pour into a heat proof dish and refrigerate. 

Vanilla pudding with Orange Panna Cotta

Once the panna cotta is set, you can pour the pudding on top. Chop your pistachios to have ready to garnish, and make your orange curls by cutting an orange peel into strips and coiling up like a mattress spring. Hold for about 30 seconds and release. They should stay intact. Garnish with the side of the glass for added flair! 

Vanilla and Orange Panna Cotta Parfaits

Citrus Panna Cotta with a layer of creamy vanilla pudding is the perfect dessert to pre-make! 

  • Prep Time10 min
  • Cook Time20 min
  • Total Time30 min
  • Yield4 small servings
  • Serving Size1

For the Panna Cotta

  • 2 cups oat milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoons agar agar (vegan substitute for gelatin)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

For the Vanilla Pudding Layer

  • 2 cups oat milk
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup roasted pistachios for topping

Add coconut milk, sugar, and agar agar to a medium saucepan and set over medium/high heat. Bring to a boil (or at least 185°F), whisking until dissolved. Continue boiling for 3 minutes, and bring down to a simmer for about five more minutes until the flakes are dissolved.


Remove from heat, add in 3 tablespoons of orange juice. Let cool for 15 minutes. Pour into soufflé bowls or cordial glasses and refrigerate for 5 hours.


Meanwhile make the pudding layer. Combine the oat milk, corn starch and sugar in a medium saucepan on low to medium heat. Dissolve, bring to simmer and let cook for 15 minutes. Whisk every few minutes to ensure it’s not sticking. 


Allow it to thicken. To test if it’s thick enough, dip the back of a spoon into the pudding, and if you run your finger across it and it doesn’t drip down, then it is finished. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Pour into a heat proof container, cover and refrigerate until the Panna Cotta is finished.


Once the Panna Cotta is set, spoon a dollop of vanilla pudding on top, and garnish with a wedge of orange or an orange curl and chopped pistachios. To make the orange garnish, thinly slice an orange and peel out the orange, coiling orange peel with your fingers like a mattress spring. Hold for one minute, and release. These make perfect little garnishes for desserts like this one!








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