A few weeks ago, I received an email about Donia Farm‘s new grass-fed milk and their line of kefir products, and they invited me for a farm tour. Donia Farm is local family dairy farm about 30 minutes away from where I live. They’ve recently started selling their grass-fed milk. Their nutritional value is higher than conventional milk, containing omega-3 and anti-oxidants. I haven’t been on a farm since an elementary school trip, so I went, anticipating to learn more about one of the most important ingredients as baker: dairy! Inspired by their quality dairy ingredients, I created this mango kefir panna cotta with coconut honey shortbread. I wanted the milk and kefir to be the the star of the dessert.
- 3.5 g / 1-1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
- 30 g / 2 tbsp cold water
- 250 g / 1 cup plain kefir
- 250 g / 1 cup whole milk
- half of a vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 25 g / 2 tbsp sugar
- 1-2 fresh mangoes, finely diced
- 66 g / 1/3 cup sugar
- 170 g / 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 170 g / 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 28 g / 1/3 cup unsweetened fine shredded coconut
- 65 g / 3 tbsp liquid honey
- flaky sea salt to top
- honeycomb, optional
- edible flowers, optional
- Prepare your ramekins, place about a tablespoon of diced mango on the bottom. Reserve leftovers for garnish.
- In a medium saucepan, heat up milk, sugar, and vanilla seeds over medium heat.
- Combine gelatin and cold water in a small bowl. The gelatin granules will start to absorb the water and swell into a solid. Set aside.
- When the milk starts to simmer, stir in bloomed gelatin. Take off heat. Quickly whisk in the kefir until it is incorporated. Pour the mixture into a measuring cup or a vessel with a spout for easy pouring.
- Pour in the individual cups until they have about a 1/4" space from the rim. Chill for at least 8 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C.
- In a mixer bowl with the paddle attachment on medium speed, mix together sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla extract just until incorporated, do not whip.
- On low speed incorporate flour and coconut, mix just until a dough forms. Avoid over-mixing for tender shortbread.
- Pat dough onto a 35 cm x 10 cm / 9.5 inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. Prick the shortbread all over. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before baking.
- Bake shortbread in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until lightly golden.
- Heat honey briefly in a microwave oven to make it runny, pour onto hot shortbread and spread with a brush, sprinkle flaky sea salt on top. Return shortbread to oven and bake for 3 minutes more.
- Cool for 15 minutes. While still warm, carefully remove the shortbread from the pan and cut into 2 cm wide fingers if using a rectangular pan or 12 wedges if using a round pan.
- Top panna cotta with more diced mangoes, honeycomb, and edible flowers. Serve with a piece of coconut shortbread on the side. Enjoy!
I visited Donia Farms on a beautiful sunny day. The trip was definitely eye-opening because I’ve never been on a dairy farm. Dave and Desiree, family operators of the farm was so patiently explaining their process, I exceeded my goal of learning about dairy production and some more. It was very interesting to understand consumer demands and a little behind-the-scene production. Milk production, turns out to be WAY more technical than I could have ever imagined, managing the herd, their health, the food, etc. I’ve have always wondered about how much water is used to make milk, it turns out the farm recycles a lot of water used in the process to increase sustainability. Another fascinating aspect I learned was that, the happier the cows, the better they perform in production!
At the end of the wonderful tour, they gave me some samples of their kefir and grass-fed milk to take home. The grass-fed milk had a sweeter taste, and slightly more creamy than their conventional counterpart. Kefir is fairly new to me, but I enjoyed all their flavoured varieties: vanilla, strawberry, blueberry, and black currant. They also have a kefir smoothie base, which is unsweetened and unflavoured. I used it to make the panna cotta, it added a light tanginess and refreshing acidity. It is quite easy to drink as well – quite mild and not as acidic as I thought.
I love baking and cooking with honey. Honey offers complex flavour notes and a unique sweetness. This was the first time that I used honeycomb, I love its chewy texture from the beeswax. Beeswax is edible, although it does leave a residue in your mouth. You can drizzle the top with more honey if honeycomb is not your thing. Aside from serving with a the panna cotta, this coconut honey shortbread is amazing. I think it may be one of the best shortbread recipes I’ve created. The coconut adds a nice aroma and texture to the otherwise plain shortbread. The floral honey on top gives it a nice taste and chewy mouth feel, cutting back any dryness. The flaky salt adds that extra touch of texture and a kick in the tongue. Mango and coconut go ever so well together, so was the fine contrast of smooth and crumbly textures.
This delicious dessert might look sophisticated, but it is very easy to pull off for an after dinner treat, since you can prepare everything ahead. Finally, thank you Dave and Desiree for the welcoming farm tour, it was such a fun day!
Disclaimer: This post is not an endorsement for Donia Farms. All opinions are my own.