You might have seen them the last time you went on vacation. You probably even had one. It's the symbol of a holiday on a warm island paradise. What am I talking about? A young green coconut. It's the perfect sustainable cool drink that even comes with its own biodegradable container. All you need is a straw. I grew up with young coconuts or "buko", as Filipinos would call it. Now that I'm older, I still crave the sweet, distinctive flavor of young coconuts. During our trips to Hawaii and the Caribbean, we saw them everywhere. Young coconuts are sold to tourists thirsty for that real tropical experience. Unfortunately, coconut trees don't grow here in the East Coast. I buy them frozen. This is not the desiccated coconut you find in your supermarket. When I eat a young coconut dessert, I am temporarily transported back to the islands. Maybe that's why I like cooking with it.
Young coconut panna cotta is simply a creation of two of my favorite things: panna cotta and young coconuts. It's a perfect marriage of east and west. Panna cotta is one of my favorite Italian desserts. It translates to "cooked cream" in Italian. For this dessert, I combined traditional panna cotta ingredients like cream, sugar and unflavored gelatin with young coconut flesh and water. The coconut juice separates from the cream, creating a terrine. The result is a refreshing new way of eating a beloved classic Italian dessert.