Elegant, ivory white and melt-in-the-mouth, this sublime treat is a blend of coconut and pandan - Asia’s classic dessert duo - tinged with the seductive surprise of orange. There is just enough gelatine to make the panna cottas voluptuous and not too firm (but if you live in the tropics as I do, you might need to add more). I love these served with a drizzle of palm sugar syrup, but I also sometimes serve them topped with a spoonful of black rice pudding for a dramatic colour contrast. Either way, it is a dessert you almost have to dress up for!






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (16 votes)


  • 1½ tbsp white sugar 
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) water 
  • 310 ml coconut milk 
  • 2 pandan leaves, tied together in a loose knot 
  • 2 wide strips orange rind
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 titanium-strength gelatine leaf 
  • 400 ml cream 

Palm sugar syrup

  • 250 g palm sugar, roughly chopped 
  • 250 ml (1 cup) water

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Chilling time: overnight

You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.

Place the white sugar and water in a heavy-based saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the coconut milk, pandan leaves, orange rind and vanilla and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes to infuse the flavours into the milk.

Meanwhile, soften the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Squeeze the water from the gelatine and add to the hot coconut milk, stirring to dissolve the gelatine.

Pour the cream into a large bowl. Strain the coconut milk onto the cream, removing the pandan leaves and orange rind, and stir to combine.

Lightly oil 6 x 125 ml-capacity dariole moulds, ramekins or elegant glasses. Place them on a tray and fill with the cream mixture. Refrigerate overnight.

To make the palm sugar syrup, put the sugar and water in a heavy-based saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, then simmer without stirring for around 15 minutes, until roughly reduced by half. When small bubbles appear on the surface, remove from the heat immediately. Strain into a jug and leave to cool.

To serve the panna cottas, run a knife around the insides of the moulds and turn onto plates. (Or if using glasses you can serve them as they are.) Drizzle with a little palm sugar syrup.

Recipe from
Bali: The Food of My Island Home by Janet de Neefe. Published by Plum/Pan Macmillan Australia.