Those moments when you have to choose between your significant other and the gym … and the gym wins. Yeah. ALL THOSE TIMES … and if you are like me, you pay little heed to Valentine’s Day each year. Because you have better things to do, like go to the gym 🙂
At some point, you have to make good on balancing that out, right? What better way than to treat yourself and your beloved with a lush chocolate dessert at some point? Maybe this Valentine’s Day? After the gym!
Oh wait, you’re dieting? You have to stick to your macros?
Waves hello at IIFYM buddies everywhere.
That’s OK. I have got your back.
Plus, I guarantee that nobody remembers being neglected when you bring them chocolate. Chocolate makes up for everything. Trust me, I make chocolates. I have seen the magic in action.
I call this dessert a panna cotta because it’s just like a panna cotta. It has the silky, luscious texture of a panna cotta and is rich and chocolatey with just a hint of Frangelico liqueur because chocolate and hazelnuts are the basis of all sweet kisses. It’s why Italian sweets with this combo are always labelled as baci!
Panna cotta means “cooked cream” in Italian. Traditionally, it is made by heating a mixture of milk and cream before adding gelatine and flavours. As I’ve made this using only Greek yoghurt and whey protein, I have turned the process on its head a little in order to get the same lovely silky texture of a panna cotta. Oh, and how lovely it is.
You can jazz this dessert up any way you like. Serve it in beautiful tall glasses, as I’ve done here, or pour the mixture into moulds and unmould them just before serving. Garnish with fresh fruits, a fruit compote, or top with a layer of fresh fruit jelly. Of course, red fruits and berries fit the bill but mango or peaches are also fantastic with this dessert. You can even keep it simple with a dollop of yoghurt and some chopped roasted hazelnuts.
I have made this panna cotta with a range of chocolates from 64% cacao solids right up to 88% cacao solids. It’s brilliant with all of them but I think I love it most with 70% and upwards as it has much more depth and richness. Use the best chocolate you can get your hands on as it makes all the difference. Inferior chocolate will result in a disappointing dessert.
I love the chocolate decorations I’ve made here with dark chocolate and roasted cacao nibs. The cacao nibs give off an earthy, coffee flavour and aroma when roasted and it’s just beautiful as a bit of crunch contrast to the creaminess of the panna cotta.
Of course, the nutrition profile is included below the recipe. Great macros, without sacrificing anything.
Speaking of which, have you seen my new protein cookbook yet? It’s the bomb! Amazing baked protein packed goodies with something for everyone. I would love for you to check it out and let me know what you think!
There’s both a paperback and Kindle version. Check it out in the Books section of the website. I’ve included some photos of a selection of the recipes you will find inside too 🙂
Have a great week and a memorable and sweet Valentine’s Day!
This dessert makes two large serves or four smaller serves. The Frangelico is optional but adds a little extra something to the panna cotta. If you prefer, you can substitute 1/4 teaspoon rose water, or a dash of almond extract, or a little orange blossom water. All of these would match the chocolate flavour beautifully and would go well with berries or stone fruit to serve. You could even add a dollop of Nutella to the mix if you love that.
This recipe is best served on the day it is made (as with most creamy desserts that contain whey) but can be made ahead.
200 grams non-fat thick, strained Greek yoghurt (e.g. Chobani 0%)
30 grams unflavoured whey protein isolate (or use vanilla or chocolate)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder (or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste)
2 grams gelatine sheets
50 grams dark chocolate (70% - 88% cocoa solids)
30 grams stevia blend sweetener (e.g. Natvia Baking, or caster sugar)
15 grams Frangelico liqueur (optional)
Prepare two tall dessert glasses or ramekins. Alternatively, prepare four smaller moulds.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the Greek yoghurt, whey protein isolate, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.
Soak the gelatine sheets in a little cold water until softened. It should only take 3 to 5 minutes.
Chop the chocolate finely and place in a heatproof bowl with the sweetener.
Remove the softened gelatine from the water and gently squeeze to remove any excess moisture.
Add the gelatine to the chocolate.
Place the bowl with the chocolate and gelatine over a pan of simmering water. The bowl should fit snugly over the pan so steam does not escape and condense into the bowl. Keep the heat low so the water only simmers and does not boil.
Gently stir the chocolate to make sure the chocolate and gelatine melt evenly, the sweetener dissolves, and there are no lumps. The mixture should be smooth.
Add a few tablespoons of the yoghurt mixture and whisk until incorporated.
Remove the bowl with the chocolate mixture from the double boiler.
Whisk in the remaining yoghurt mixture to the chocolate mixture.
Finally add the Frangelico liqueur.
Divide the panna cotta between the glasses or moulds. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, until set.
Remove from the refrigerator just before serving.
If you wish to unmould the panna cotta, simply run a knife around the edge of the panna cotta along the sides of the mould and gently shake the mould over a plate to remove the panna cotta.
Top and serve as desired.
Roasted Cacao Nib Chocolate Decorations
You will need a food thermometer for this recipe.
- 30 grams raw cacao nibs
- 50 grams dark chocolate (70% cacao solids)
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.
Spread out the cacao nibs on the baking sheet and roast for about 5 to 8 minutes or until the colour deepens and the nibs start to give off a toasted aroma. Take care that they do not over roast or burn. Remove from the oven and keep the nibs warm. Set aside the lined baking sheet to cool. You will need this again.
Place 35 grams of the chocolate in a bowl (not glass) in a microwave and check the temperature is around 45°C. Stir until evenly melted. Add the reserved 15 grams of chocolate and stir until it has completely melted. Continue to stir and keep an eye on the temperature. When it reaches 31-32°C, add the cacao nibs. Stir to combine.
Working quickly, spread the chocolate in a thin layer on to the lined baking sheet. Set aside to cool and set.
When the chocolate is almost set, use a small round or heart-shaped cookie cutter to carefully cut out rounds or heart shapes. Just press the cookie cutter down to cut through the chocolate and carefully lift the cookie cutter without removing the cut outs. Let the chocolate set fully.
When fully set, carefully remove the cut out decorations. Store in an airtight container until ready to use. Yes, there will be off cuts! Delicious crunchy, yummy off cuts 🙂
If your chocolate does not set hard, it means it did not temper correctly. If this is the case, cover the chocolate on the sheet and place in the refrigerator to set completely. You can store the cut outs in an airtight container in the refrigerator, in this case. That way, it will remain set hard until ready to serve.
Just for a bit of fun, and because I had some leftover dark chocolate, and a little time to kill, I dropped little mounds of chocolate onto a lined baking sheet to make mendiants. I just topped them with some bright, super tasty freeze-dried strawberries (dehydrated would be great as a substitute) and some caramelised almonds with chilli I bought recently. Amazing combination.
Once set, I just store them airtight at cool room temperature. They are so moreish.
What follows is the nutrition profile for the panna cotta and, separately, for the roasted cacao nib chocolate discs.
I have assumed chocolate that has 70-85% cacao solids for both recipes. The amount of sugar and fat can vary between chocolates of the same or similar percentage cacao solids so always consider which you use. I have used values sourced from the USDA database to provide average values.
The nutrition profile for the chocolate decorations gives total macros for the whole recipe. You can determine how much per individual piece by weighing out the total (about 80 grams) and the individual cut outs.