If you are a staunch vegetarian and do not like eating desserts with gelatin in it, fret not. Agar-agar obtained from red algae is a gelatinous polysaccharide and is a vegetarian alternative to gelatin.

Agar-agar is used widely in Japanese cuisine to thicken foods like puddings, desserts, jellies, soups and to give dishes a wobbly texture. It is in fact a more powerful thickening compound than gelatin and does not impart flavour, colour, or odour to the food.

In this article, we give you two delicious desserts that are easy to make, by using agar-agar.

Strawberry Panna Cotta

Panna cotta means cooked cream in Italian and it is a very popular dessert in Italy. Made by blending cream, sugar and vanilla, agar- agar is added for thickening the dessert. There are different types of panna cottas and the cream is flavoured by infusing coffee, vanilla, strawberry and other exotic fruits.

Nutritional Benefits

Panna cotta is packed with dense nutrients that are high on calories, protein and loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. This dessert keeps you energized and p   romotes overall health.

Ingredients

For Milk Mixture:

1 cup milk

¾ cup cream

1 tsp agar-agar

½ cup powdered, sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

A pinch of salt

For Strawberry Mixture:

2 tbsp warm water

1 tsp agar-agar

2 cup strawberry

Method

Boil milk mixture by heating 1 cup milk and ¾ cup cream. Make sure the cream blends well with milk.

Now add 1 tsp agar-agar and whisk well.

Cook the milk on medium-low heat till it steams.

Now add ½ cup powdered sugar and dissolve sugar.

Switch off the flame, add 1 tsp vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.

Blend well and allow the milk to cool for 10 minutes before pouring in to the glasses.

Place the serving glass in a bowl so that it gets tilted slightly and pour in prepared milk mixture till it reaches the rim.

Refrigerate it for 2 hours.

For Strawberry Mixture

Add 1 tsp of agar-agar in 2 tbsp warm water. Mix well and dissolve agar-agar completely and add 2 cups of fresh strawberry puree.

Take glasses with frozen milk mixture and fill rest of the glass with strawberry mixture.

Ensure the glasses remain titled, allowing it to set completely.

Refrigerate it for 2 hours or overnight.

Enjoy the delicious strawberry panna cotta chilled.

Tender Coconut Pudding

Tender coconut pudding is soft and velvety. A healthy and nutritious dense pudding it is light on your tummy and serves as a perfect dessert after dinner.

Nutritional Benefits

Tender coconut is a natural coolant loaded with electrolytes that help in maintaining the fluid balance in the body and also serve as an instant energizer.

Ingredients

2 cups tender coconut pulp

2 cups tender coconut water

1 tsp agar-agar

1 tin milkmaid

1 ½ cup milk

½ glass water

2 tbsp sugar

Method

Coarsely grind the tender coconut pulp and coconut water and keep aside.

Now add milk to the milkmaid along with 2tbsp sugar, boil it and keep aside.

Soak the agar-agar in ½ glass water for 15 minutes and add into the milk-maid mixture.

Allow the mixture to cool. Now add the tender coconut pulp mixture into the now cool milk mixture and blend well. Refrigerate it for 3 hours so that the pudding may set well.

Relish the rich flavoured taste of tender coconut pudding.