Five Spice Chocolate Chia Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta is a simple and delicious dessert perfect for a humid summer evening. Meaning “cooked cream” in Italian, it is traditionally a combination of dairy, sugar, gelatin and various flavorings. The ingredients are simply brought to a simmer, the gelatin is added and then it is poured into the desired serving vessel and chilled to set. 

This version is a vegan interpretation substituting chia seeds for the gelatin. Chia seeds swell to roughly ten times their original size in liquid so they provide the “gelatinizing” effect needed for this treat. The final texture of this dessert is similar to a tapioca due to the presence of the chia seeds. When it comes to using  dark chocolate in a vegan dessert, you can either specifically buy non-dairy vegan chocolate or simply peruse the selection reading the ingredients to pay close attention that dairy is not listed.  A dark chocolate containing at least 70% cacao will likely not contain dairy but there will be exceptions depending on the flavor profile and brand. Brands like Endangered Species produce chocolate bars that are organic and vegan. 

Regardless if your vegan, vegetarian or an omnivore, you will surely enjoy this scrumptious chocolate treat. 

Five Spice Chocolate Chia Panna Cotta
Serves 4
A vegan panna cotta featuring chocolate and five spice powder, set with chia seeds.
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
4 hr 20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
4 hr 20 min
  1. 2 1/2 C. Organic Unsweetened Soymilk
  2. 2 Tbsp. Agave Syrup
  3. 3 oz. 70% Chocolate, vegan, chopped
  4. 1/4 C. + 3 Tbsp. Chia Seeds
  5. 2 Tbsp. Dark Cocoa Powder
  6. 1/2 tsp. Five Spice powder
  7. 1/2 tsp. fine grain Sea Salt
  8. 1/8 tsp. Cayenne pepper *optional*
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the soymilk, chocolate and agave syrup. Whisk for 15-20 seconds every minute until chocolate is completely melted, roughly 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add the cocoa powder, five spice powder, salt and cayenne if using into the saucepan, whisking for 45- 60 seconds or until the ingredients are combined with the liquid. There should be no clumps of powder floating on top. Strain soymilk mixture into a bowl or large measuring cup.
  3. Whisk chia seeds into soymilk mixture and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. Re-whisk mixture and allow to sit for another 3-5 minutes. Whisk once more and pour into 4 six ounce serving glasses.
  4. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours to set.
  5. Remove from refrigerator. Garnish with desired toppings, I used toasted almonds and flake coconut. Serve.
  1. *If you enjoy spicier desserts, you can add a bit of Cayenne to give this an extra kick.
Soy and Sugar

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