Coffee Panna Cotta is a softly set, almost delicate Italian dessert of lightly sweetened cream flavored with coffee and a little vanilla. Each spoonful of this cool, silky smooth dessert seems to melt in your mouth almost instantly making it the perfect ending to even the biggest meal.
This elegant little dessert can be prepared in a matter of minutes and then left to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours to set up. Since it needs to be made in advance, it makes a wonderful dessert to serve at a party. While it is delicious served plain, I drizzled each of the panna cotta with a small amount of Kahlúa and then garnished them with three dark chocolate covered coffee beans.
The flavor and texture of panna cotta is very important. To cut the richness of this dessert yet keep its luxurious creamy mouthfeel, I like to use part cream, part half and half, and part milk. The result is as light as can be and has that gentle wobble that is an indication of a perfectly made panna cotta.
Coffee Panna Cotta
Makes 4 to 5 servings, adjust the recipe accordingly
- 1/4 c. milk
- 1 packet (1/4oz.) of Knox unflavored gelatin powder*
- 2 c. (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 c. half and half
- 1/2 c. powdered (icing) sugar
- 2 packets (0.09oz./2.6g) instant coffee (I used Pilon Gourmet Instant Sticks)
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- Khalúa, optional
- dark chocolate covered coffee beans, optional
*If you are using bulk powdered gelatin, a packet is slightly less than 2 1/2 tsp.
Pour the milk into a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over it and let sit for ten minutes until it becomes soft and spongy, do not stir. Place the cream, half and half, sugar and coffee granules into a pot over medium low heat, stir until the sugar and coffee dissolve. Let the liquid come to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly, until tiny bubbles form around the edge of the pot, being careful to not let it boil.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the soften gelatin mixture and the vanilla. Whisk or stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved and then strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl with a pouring spout.
Prepare your molds by running cold water on the inside, rinse but do not dry. (Some people use a thin film of non flavored oil wiped on the inside of the molds instead to help when unfolding but I haven’t needed it).
When the cream mixture has cooled, pour it into the serving containers or molds and chill until firm. This will take about 4 or 5 hours, depending on the size of the containers. If you are worried about having problems unmolding the panna cotta, you can pour the cream mixture into glasses, chill until firm and not unmold the desserts.
To serve, let the molds sit out about 5 to 10 minutes. Loosen the top edge of the molds with the tip of a thin knife then warm each mold in your hands or dip into warm water for just a second or two. Place a dessert plate on top, turn over and gently tap to unmold. I served the coffee panna cotta with a drizzle of Khalúa and topped each one with three dark chocolate covered coffee beans for a bite of chocolatey crunch.
I’ve wanted to make a coffee panna cotta for some time and I was very happy with this creation. Each spoonful was light, creamy and had a wonderful coffee flavor, the perfect ending to our meal. If you enjoy an after dinner coffee and a bite of something sweet, then I think this super easy yet elegant looking dessert is for you.
In the past, I’ve used antique dessert cups to serve my vanilla panna cotta with strawberry sauce, as I think it makes for a pretty presentation, you can find the recipe here. Unfortunately my set consists of only four settings and I needed more. I would like to thank Alida at My Little Italian Kitchen for the inspiration to use disposable plastic cups for molds. They worked perfectly and I really like the texture that comes from the little cups.