Part 2: First Variation On The Theme – Coffee Panna Cotta

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.

Easy to find both at the grocery store these days!

Easy to find both at the grocery store these days!

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.

Make sure to use COLD water!

Make sure to use COLD water!

In a large measuring cup (at least 2 cups), measure the coffee or water.  Add the espresso powder and whisk to dissolve.

Just a little HOT coffee to dissolve the espresso powder...

Just a little HOT coffee to dissolve the espresso powder…

Add the brown sugar and salt, whisking again to dissolve (especially if you have some chunks).

Whisk to break up any lumps and dissolve the sugar and salt

Whisk to break up any lumps and dissolve the sugar and salt

Add the cream and whisk again.

Use HEAVY whipping cream for best results

Use HEAVY whipping cream for best results

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!

Very little teeny bubbles-- then off heat!

Watch for very little teeny bubbles– then off heat at once!

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.

Thick and sticky

Thick and sticky

Stir this very well to makes sure there are no clumps of gelatin goo left floating in the cream

Stir this very well to makes sure there are no clumps of gelatin goo left floating in the cream

Pour the mixture into the original measuring cup.  Pour into the individual ramekins.

Distribute the hot cream equally among the ramekins

Distribute the hot cream equally among the ramekins

Refrigerate until set.

Ready for the big chill

Ready for the big chill

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).

I like how the espresso powder creates a darker layer on the top!

I like how the espresso powder creates a darker layer on the top!

Here’s the Near-Slime version and my New-and-Improved version:

This one was a little too "weepy" for me and Kurt!

This one was a little too “weepy” for me and Kurt!

This one was creamy and soft, yet not slimy...

This one was creamy and soft, yet not slimy…

Soon:  Second Variation– Nutella Panna Cotta, the one Ken’s been eagerly anticipating!

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3 Comments

Filed under Desserts, Family, Food

3 responses to “Part 2: First Variation On The Theme – Coffee Panna Cotta

  1. Panna cotta is one of my favorite desserts. Not so hard to make too! This coffee version looks delicious.

  2. grace

    This was delish!!!! So easy and the texture was perfect. The coffee flavor was perfect…not too sweet. So where is the nutella recipe?????

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