Although I’m a traditionalist about my panna cotta, I am open to trying something new. Today’s panna cotta is flavored with espresso; once I stirred everything together, the mixture was a lovely mocha– much like a Starbuck’s frappucino! Kurt calls panna cotta “ice cream pudding,” and was gloating about this upcoming coffee flavor because “maybe Ken won’t even try it.” Then I reminded him that our son has developed a keen appreciation for frappucinos!
In her book Nigellissima, Nigella uses her espresso machine to brew a couple of shots. I have an espresso machine (Starbucks!) that has been sitting in my basement storage for as long as Ken is old. I bought it for Kurt, but he didn’t want to fiddle with it, and I’m scared of anything that can explode– balloons, pressure cookers, espresso makers, corked bottles of champagne. (Seriously, I only buy mylar balloons for parties, much to my family’s endless amusement, and any of the mommies will attest that I always ask one of them to open the bubbly).
My method for getting that espresso flavor into my desserts? What else but instant espresso powder? The Medaglia D’Oro brand is now ubiquitous. I mix it into hot coffee, which we always have on hand, and it works perfectly for me.
When I made this for the first time, both Kurt and I thought the flavor was excellent– not intense, rather more like cafe au lait, but the texture was off-putting– what I deemed “just this side of slime.” It was way too soft for our liking. I even let one of the ramekins set overnight, with no added firmness. I’ve never had a problem with the vanilla recipe, but I switched out the milk for buttermilk.
For this recipe, I think it’s the amount of water (1/2 cup in the original recipe) that was the root cause. Since what we’re after is the intense coffee flavor, I decided to decrease the water (for me, coffee) to 1/4 cup and add a bit more espresso powder than I usually do.
For a dinner party, I’d definitely make a chocolate sauce to drizzle on top, but for the family, we’ll enjoy it nude.
Coffee Panna Cotta (from Nigellissima)
- 2 TB cold water
- 1 tsp powdered gelatin (e.g., Knox)
- 1/4 c hot coffee (or very hot water)
- 2 1/2 tsp espresso powder
- 1/4 c firmly packed brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 3/4 c heavy whipping cream
- 4 1/2-cup ramekins
Place the cold water in a small bowl, then sprinkle the gelatin over the surface. Let sit about 10 minutes until gelatin has softened.
In a large measuring cup (at least 2 cups), measure the coffee or water. Add the espresso powder and whisk to dissolve.
Add the brown sugar and salt, whisking again to dissolve (especially if you have some chunks).
Add the cream and whisk again.
Place the cream mixture into a small sauce pan over medium heat. Heat until small bubble form around the pan’s edges– do not let the cream come to a boil!
Remove the sauce pan from the stove. Test the gelatin to see if it’s soft; it will be gooey! Scrape the gelatin into the cream mixture and whisk to thoroughly dissolve the goop into the hot liquid.
Pour the mixture into the original measuring cup. Pour into the individual ramekins.
Refrigerate until set.
To unnmold a ramekin, first run a thin knife around the edges then dip the ramekin in a bowl of hot water for about 30 seconds. Wipe off ramekin and unmold onto a plate (place plate on top of ramekin and invert).
Here’s the Near-Slime version and my New-and-Improved version:
Soon: Second Variation– Nutella Panna Cotta, the one Ken’s been eagerly anticipating!