Coffee Panna Cotta

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.

Coffee Panna Cotta Drizzled With Khálua And Topped With Three Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans
Coffee Panna Cotta Drizzled With Khalúa And Topped With Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans

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.


Coffee Panna Cotta, The Perfect Ending To A Meal
Coffee Panna Cotta, The Perfect Ending To A Meal

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.

Panna Cotta With Balsamic Strawberry Sauce
Panna Cotta With Balsamic Strawberry Sauce

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.


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207 thoughts on “Coffee Panna Cotta

  1. This looks gorgeous, Karen, and I’m sure tastes fantastic, too. I’m surprised that seeing as I’m both a panna cotta and a coffee junkie I haven’t made a coffee panna cotta yet. Going to remedy that soon, though, thanks to your inspiration!

    1. Thank you Kiki, I can vouch that it tastes as good as it looks. I’ve been wanting to try to come up with a coffee panna cotta for awhile and I think it turned out great. I’m glad to have inspired you, I think you will enjoy it.

    1. Hi Linda, Panna cotta is the easiest dessert that I think you can make. My English Countryside dinnerware went so well in our New England home. Here in Florida, I could probably use something a little different but I I really enjoy the pattern. 🙂

  2. What a delicious idea to finish this elegant dessert with Kahlúa and chocolate covered coffee beans. I especially love desserts that can be made in advance so I can focus on the main course without worry. This panna cotta looks amazing, Karen. 🙂

    1. Thank you Judy, I’m glad you like the way I finished the dessert, I thought the more coffee flavors the better. Panna cotta is perfect since it needs to be made in advance, great when entertaining.

    1. Hi Diane, I appreciate your lovely compliment. I do know that you have tried several of my recipes…enjoy the panna cotta. I hope you had a lovely weekend as well. 🙂

  3. Karen, I just made this last week and would have posted if my photo skills had not betrayed me. This is such a delicious dessert and perfect when the weather heats up and the oven seems off limits. Your presentation is A+.

    1. Hi Madonna, I’m sorry that your photos didn’t turn out but I bet you panna cotta was delicious too. I believe you are right about this being such a nice dessert for warm weather. I’m glad you like the way I presented it, thank you.

  4. This looks delicious! I love coffee-flavoured desserts — tiramisu is one of my favourites.

    I would have to use a vegetarian alternative to gelatin if I made pannacotta, but that wouldn’t be a problem (agar agar is a good substitute).

    1. Thank you Grace, for your nice compliment. Yes agar agar would be a very good substitute for the gelatin. I hope you enjoy the coffee panna cotta.

  5. I have yet to try making panna cotta myself but you have definitely inspired me! I love the mold you used and the Kahlua and chocolate-covered coffee beans are the perfect garnishes. I can just imagine the silky texture! The strawberry flavor would be so perfect for spring.

    1. Hi Susan, Panna cotta is the easiest dessert ever…you could probably make this blindfolded. I really liked using the little disposal plastic cups as molds. I thought the lines they created made a nice design and captured the Khalúa in the crevices.

  6. Karen, that looks divine! I love panna cottas…especially for summer. I don’t drink coffee, but oddly, love it in ice cream form so imagine I’d adore this. Such a pretty presentation, too.

    1. Thank you Barbara, for your nice compliment. Yes, panna cotta is perfect for our hot Florida summers…anything cool makes a nice ending to a meal.

    1. Hi Gerlinde, I hope you had a nice dinner with your friends. I’m sure whatever you made them for dessert was delicious. Panna cotta is nice since it is made in advance, perhaps next time. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment Darryl, I’m happy to know that I have inspired you. As you can see from my last photo, I too have served panna cotta in custard dishes before as well but I really liked this presentation.

  7. I love panna cotta (making it as well as eating it!) and I love coffee. I really must try this flavour sometime — it looks so delicious and you’ve presented it so attractively. I have a bright and sunny set of espresso cups and saucers that I like to use to serve my panna cotta. I find the portions are just the right size since this dessert is so rich. I’ve yet to be brave enough to make it in moulds, but you’ve inspired me!

    1. Hi Marlene, Pretty little espresso cups are perfect for serving panna cotta. I liked the disposable plastic cups for the same reason…they were 5oz. size so the dessert wasn’t too big. I’m happy that I’ve inspired you to try the molds, I thought the cups worked great.

    1. Thank you Deb, I’m glad you like the dessert. I thought the three different ways of using coffee made for an delicious taste.

  8. Khalúa is never optional at our house when it comes to coffee desserts! Love this dish, and we haven’t made it in forever. And never a coffee-flavored one. Hmmm, sounds like I need to make your version, and soon. 🙂 Really nice — thanks so much.

    1. Hi John, I think this is the perfect dessert for you to try. You are going to love the coffee flavors and yes, the Khalúa will always top mine as well. 😀

    1. I appreciate your nice compliment, Ronit. Yes, not using all cream as some people do does make for a much lighter dessert…I’m glad you agree.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Nancy, I appreciate your nice compliment. I hope you enjoyed the panna cotta if you got a chance to make it.

    1. Thank you Vicki, The really is a nice hot weather dessert. I’m sure our hot weather is just around the corner. I’m not looking forward to the heat and humidity but I’ll just have to get used to it. 😀

  9. So pretty, Karen. I will be trying this for certain.
    Hope your spring in your new home is going well. Things are blustery and cold up north.
    Enjoy the day

    1. Hi Sue, I’m happy to hear that you want to give this recipe a try…I thought it was a winner and I hope you think so too. Everything is going well in our new home and we are enjoying Vero Beach, thank you for asking. The spring weather has been crazy up north this year…hope it warms up and stays warm for you soon.

  10. Coffee/espresso panna cotta is one of my many favourite flavours. I love the mold you used even if if was just a humble disposable cup. The finished presentation looks so elegant.

    The dessert bowls remind me of some painted dishes my mom had. I should really dig them out one day and use them.

    1. Thank you Boleyn, I was real happy using the little cups…they left a nice design on the panna cotta. Yes, you really should enjoy your mother’s painted dishes, I’m sure they have many memories attached to them.

  11. I adore panna cotta. I have some English friends coming to visit in June and this will certainly be our dessert for our night in. This looks wonderful.

    1. Hi Karen, I hope you and your friends will enjoy the panna cotta as much as we all did, it was a hit at my dinner with friends.

  12. What an elegant presentation, Karen. I don’t think I’ve ever had panna cotta before, but I must say your description of it makes me want to try it as soon as possible! And yes, I love the tip about the plastic cups.

    1. Hi Kathryn, I really believe that you would enjoy panna cotta…I do hope you give it a try sometime. The little plastic cups worked so well, I’m definitely using them again. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Thank you Monique, for your nice compliment. Don’t you just love the shape of the panna cotta…I’m going to be using those little cups again. 🙂

    1. Hi David, I do believe that you would enjoy the coffee panna cotta drizzled with Kahúla. It has a nice flavor, not too sweet and not too strong…just right. 🙂

    1. Hi Liz, I think David will change his mind about coffee desserts if he tries this one. 🙂 I’m happy to know that you like my dessert and thank you for your lovely compliment.

  13. Gorgeous dessert and love that mould with the fun rims. One of my favorite desserts but have never had coffee flavoured and those chocolate beans on top take this dessert over the top!

    1. I appreciate your lovely compliment Bobbie, thank you. I’ve been wanting to make a coffee flavored panna cotta for some time and I’m happy with the way it turned out. I thought the chocolate coffee beans were a nice contrast to the silky texture of the dessert itself.

  14. Such an elegant presentation for such a sumptuous dessert Karen. The touch of Kahlúa and Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans are the icing on the cake!

    Thank you so much for sharing, Karen…

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment Louise, I’m happy to know that you like the recipe and the way that I presented the panna cotta. I thought it turned out well.

  15. Panna cotta is one of my favorite desserts. Not only does it taste good, it’s one of the easier desserts to prepare. Love your mold.

    1. Hi Linda, I totally agree with you about panna cotta. It tastes so good and yet is super simple to make. I thought the little plastic cups gave a great look to the dessert, I’m glad you like it too.

    1. Thank you Loretta, for your nice compliment. I was real pleased with the flavor of the coffee panna cotta, it was a nice ending to our meal.

    1. Hi Marcelle, You are going to be amazed at how easy it is to make panna cotta. Thank you for your nice compliment and I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as my husband and I and our guests did.

  16. Absolutely stunning presentation, Karen! The flavors sound wonderful…definitely bookmarking this one! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    1. I appreciate you lovely compliment Nancy, thank you. I’m happy to know that you like the recipe and hope you will enjoy the dessert if you give it a try.

    1. Thank you Greg, The disposable plastic cups do make for a pretty look on the panna cotta. They jiggled all the way to the table. 😀

  17. Wow – what an awesome idea… to use disposable plastic cups for the Panna Cotta. Talk about the Wow Factor!! Gotta go PIN this immediately

  18. Hi Cecile, I have to agree with you about the disposable plastic cups, I love the interesting look they gave to the panna cotta. Thank you for the pin, it is much appreciated.

    1. Thank you Denise, for your nice compliment. If the two of you love panna cotta, I believe you will enjoy my coffee version. 🙂

  19. What a gorgeous panna cotta!! My husband loves making panna cotta so I’m forwarding this to him right now. Thanks!

    1. Hi MJ, I appreciate your nice compliment. Isn’t it nice that we have husbands that like to cook. Thanks for passing the recipe along to your husband…I hope you both enjoy the coffee panna cotta.

  20. Thank You for this post. I have never tasted it. In my family, we have a Christmas tradition to prepare an Italian dessert called Zuppa Inglese. It is our favorite.

    Happy new week!

    1. Hi Julie, I hope you father in law gets the hint and will approve of my coffee panna cotta…my guests and my husband and I did.

  21. How fabulous does that look! 🙂 🙂 I love the tartness of forest fuits in panna cotta but I’d love to give this a go too. Thanks, Karen!

    1. Thank you for your lovely compliment, Jo. I believe you would enjoy the coffee version, it makes a nice ending to a meal.

  22. That panna cotta looks beautiful and delicious! It especially caught my eye, because I have the same dishes as the dessert plate your panna cotta is on!! I love that pattern and have not gotten tired of it–I’ve had it for 20 years! 🙂

    1. Hi Jenny, Thank you for your lovely compliment, I’m glad to know you like the panna cotta. I think I’ve had my English Countryside dishes for about as long and I feel the same way as you. 🙂

  23. Oh My Goodness, my mouth is watering right now. What a beautiful dessert, you had my attention at the first word . . . coffee! Can’t wait to give this a try!

    1. Hi Geni, I’m glad that you like the way I presented the panna cotta, thank you. I’m been wanting to do something a little different from my vanilla version and really was happy with the way it turned out.

  24. I appreciate your nice compliment, Kelli. I’m glad you liked the photo and want to give my recipe a try…I believe you will really like it.

    1. Hi Cheyanne, I’m with you…this is the perfect way to finish a meal. Thank you for your nice compliment and I hope you are feeling better.

  25. Your coffee panna cotta looks just heavenly to me, Karen! I love the flavors of coffee and cream so much. Pouring Kahlua over it just sends it over the top. Beautiful presentation, too. Your idea for using the plastic cups is so helpful. Pinning this!

  26. I wish I had prepared this for a treat tonight, Karen. It really does appeal to me! Your recipe and directions are so clear that I am certain this is going to become a favorite. I do love the coffee and anything with Kahlua is sure to please!

    1. Hi Debra, This is probably the easiest dessert you can make and delicious, if I do say so myself. I believe you will enjoy this panna cotta. I hope your are feeling better and appreciate your stopping by and your nice compliment.

  27. I am so happy you posted this recipe. We just had an awesome dinner out last night and the dessert was a coffee panna cotta topped with a bourbon foam. It was layered with a coffee granita and it had another layer, too! It was so good and I can’t wait to use yours to come up with something similar!

    1. Thank you Abbe, I’m always happy to give inspiration to others and I’m glad that you like the recipe. Your dessert sounds like it was very good. It will be interesting to see with you come up with. 🙂

    1. Hi Myra, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. You are right, panna cotta does have a silky texture like flan. I hope you will enjoy the recipe.

    1. Hi Donna, This sounds like the perfect dessert for you to try. I’m sure yours would look just the same but if you are worried about unmolding it, just prepare it in custard cups. 😉

  28. Absolutely gorgeous dessert and its presentation. I use disposable cups when I need to make many to serve at a party. Nest time I make them, I am going to use your ratio of cream, half-and-half and milk. I said it before, I love your antique cup and saucer… so gorgeous! 🙂

    1. Thank you Fae, for your lovely compliment. I was real pleased with the disposable cups for molds…I’m sure I’ll find more uses for them in the kitchen. I believe the ratio makes for a light but still creamy and delicious panna cotta. I sold must of my antiques when we downsized in our move to Florida but the moonstone opalescent dessert cups were keepers as far as I was concerned…I’m glad you like them as much as I do. 🙂

  29. Hi Karen! I’m a New Englander transplanted in a suburb of Washington D.C. Your wonderful blog is making me homesick and I think I must start following you! LOVE this panna cotta. I have always wanted to try one coffee flavored. And thanks for sharing the great tip with the plastic cups. It served as a great mold! Love the Kahlua drizzle, too! : )

    1. Welcome Anne, It is so nice to have you follow along on my blog, I hope you will find it interesting. I’m like you and have wanted to make a coffee panna cotta for some time. I was pleased with the way it turned out and happy with using the plastic cups for molds.

  30. They look so beautiful. I was wondering what mold you used and after reading I can completely see the design from a disposable cup! This is a dessert I can definitely get into, I love panna cotta and coffee flavored would be fantastic.

    1. Hi Gretchen, Don’t you like the idea of the disposable cups…I’ll be using them again. I’m glad you like my coffee flavored panna cotta, thank you.

  31. I love panna cotta and would love to prepare this at home, especially with the kahlua drizzled! The strawberry version with balsamic must also be delicious! Perfect for warmer weather evenings outside to enjoy al fresco!

    1. Hi Roz, I agree with you about panna cotta being a nice summer dessert. Thank you for your nice compliment about my recipes, it is much appreciated.

  32. I was just about to ask what type of cups you used for that lovely shape! Coffee flavour is one of my favourite flavours. I’ll definitely be trying this.

  33. Hi Kiran, I’m glad to know that you like the looks of the coffee panna cotta, thank you. I was real happy with the way it turned out.

  34. What a decadent delicious-looking dessert, Karen! My mouth is watering imagining it. So good to see you again after a long hiatus. Hope all is well.

    1. I’m happy to know you like the dessert, Kathy…it is delicious. Life has been busy but getting easier, thank you for asking. 🙂

  35. Hi Karen, I wondered what moulds you had used to get such a fabulous finish (plastic cups!!! who knew!!!) I love this dessert – cool, silky, crunchy – I’m going to make it as a treat for myself! Now where did I put those picnic cups…

  36. What a gorgeous dessert! They turned out just beautifully (love the use of plastic cups!) and would be a perfect way to end an elegant meal.

    1. Hi Fran, I’m glad to know you like the looks of the panna cotta…thank you. For the molds, I simply used disposable plastic cups.

  37. Your both versions of panna cotta look gorgeous, but especially the coffee one. So majestic and elegant! (And it’d make a perfect dessert with the coffee flavour). “Slimming” this dessert is a great idea. As you might have noticed, I am obsessed with light gelatin- or agar-set desserts, so I’d love your lighter panna cotta!

    1. Thank you Sissi, for your nice compliment. Yes, knowing your love of desserts like this, I believe this would be one that would suit you to a tee.

  38. Wow, that panna cotta looks amazing, Karen! And the flavors…I love a good coffee flavored dessert, and I’m pretty much obsessed with all things Italian. So this one would be one excellent dessert for me. I totally want to make this now! 🙂

    1. Thank you David, for your nice compliment. It really does sound like this is a dessert tailor made for you, I hope you will enjoy it.

    1. I appreciate your lovely compliment, Katerina. I’m happy to know that you like the looks of the panna cotta. I was happy with the way it turned out.

    1. Hi Jessie, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. I’m happy that you like my version of coffee panna cotta.

  39. Dear Karen, what a genius idea to be using plastic cups as molds. They certainly make for one elegant presentation. Nice touch to add Kahlua and chocolate covered coffee beans to your lovely panna cotta. And I do remember your antique dessert cups! They looked (and still look) absolutely stunning!

    1. Hi Andrea, don’t you just love the idea of using the plastic cups for molds…I thought they worked real well. Thank you for your nice compliment about my dessert. Yes, we both do enjoy our antiques and I couldn’t part with the dessert cups when we moved. 🙂

  40. Elegant is right! What a beautiful dessert and it reminds me that I don’t make panna cotta as often as I should. The cups were a brilliant idea. I wondered as I was reading what you used for the pretty mold design. This dessert is perfect for warm weather…anytime, really. 🙂

    1. Hi Betsy, This dessert really does make a nice presentation at the end of a meal…I’m glad you like it. Those plastic cups worked great, it would be the last time I will be using them.

  41. Give me any dessert with coffee. This looks really delicious and I’m always looking for recipes I can prepare in advance… especially something refreshing for the upcoming warm season.

  42. Thank you Didi, Coffee at the end of a meal is so traditional that it only makes sense to add it to a dessert. Seeing how panna cotta needs to be made in advance, it is perfect when you are entertaining friends.

  43. Thank you for posting this recipe. My mother made coffee panna cotta frequently when I was a girl. I forgot all about the dessert until I saw your photo. Wham! happy memories came from no where and hit me. I suddenly found myself back in the sunny breakfast room of my childhood and my mouth was drooling. How I enjoyed the cool, silky, sweet treat! She served the kid’s version with “burnt sugar syrup” flavored with instant coffee.

  44. My morning coffee addiction in a silky smooth treat!! You made the picture more appetizing and the recipe looks delicious and very easy to make. Hoping I can find time to make this and give it my friends.

  45. Love panna cotta and coffee would be near the top. The kahlua drizzle accents the lines perfectly. Your mold is beautiful–collecting some new molds is on my list this year 🙂

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