The lime is certainly a good challenge ingredient: a little bit sweet, a little bit tart, but with an alluring (if elusive) flavor and scent. What to make to capture both? I first thought about the key lime pie, imagined lime squares, paused briefly on some lime-based ceviche, but finally decided I was going to make a creamy, zesty, lime panna cotta. I could almost taste the flavors and almost see the beautiful little wobble it would make when inverted onto a serving plate. Also, it's incredibly easy and quick to make (aside from the chilling time).
Alas, it was not to be. I realized I had no gelatin, and no stores in South East London (ok, within a 15 minute walk of my flat) stocked anything.
Then Plan B came to me, or more specifically, "Plan Coconut Milk Pudding which is sort of like Panna Cotta but doesn't need gelatin." (And, hey! is vegan.) I have made very successful chocolate puddings with milk and cornstarch, so I thought I'd try it here with some coconut milk (to give it a little extra flavor, plus: lime & coconut = culinary perfection). I warmed the coconut milk, added the lime juice and some sugar -- enough of both to give a pretty good dose of lime flavor without completely overwhelming the poor tastebuds -- and then stirred in my thickener. I added some blueberries to the coconut mixture when I poured it into my ramekins. I briefly contemplated making a blueberry and lime sauce instead, but decided I liked the fresh blueberries better.
And you know what, it came out pretty well. Lesson learned: always do what the song says and put the lime in the coconut. Here's a picture (post-digging in) so you can see the beautiful blueberries hovering in the coconut cream.
Lime & coconut panna cotta with blueberries
2 C. coconut milk (regular or light or a mixture of both)
3 Tbsp. lime juice
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
Zest of 1 lime
handful of blueberries
Arrange 4 ramekins with a circle of baking parchment to line the bottom of each. This will help the panna cotta to release when ready to serve.
Gently heat coconut milk, lime juice and sugar (adjusting the proportions of the lime and the sugar depending on the sweetness and acidity of your lime). Scoop out 1/4 C. of the coconut milk and whisk the cornstarch in before returning the mixture to the pan. Keep whisking while it heats and thickens. It should thicken nicely before getting to a full boil, at which point remove from heat.
Let the mixture cool slightly, then pour into ramekins, mixing blueberries in. Chill for at least 2-3 hours. To serve, dip ramekin into hot water for 5 seconds or so, then invert onto a plate. (At least this is what should happen. I had to run a knife around the edge of mine to get them to slip out.)