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a little pick me up

Recipe: espresso panna cotta

I wanted to post on the first day of spring, but my workout kicked my ass and I nodded off on the couch last night instead – drool and all. I didn’t snore. That’s the dog’s job. She performed to expectation, snoring her little brains out with her furry self stretched on the futon next to me… much like she’s doing this morning.


it’s a full time job



Jeremy was out of town for a meeting in Puerto Rico this week. While most folks who live where there is more winter than summer might be ecstatic to take a trip to a tropical locale, he isn’t one of them. [You honestly think I'd shack up with someone who loves the tropics more than the mountains? Come on!] Some people get bent out of shape when their partner goes out of town, but it doesn’t phase me much unless something shitty happens like a car accident or someone dying. However, I did have an itch to make a dessert, but decided to wait until Jeremy got home because it is one of his favorites.

can you guess? gelatin and milk…



The first time I ever had panna cotta was at The Kitchen in Boulder about two years ago. It was Community Night and we were *stuffed* when this trough of creamy goodness was set on the table in front of us. Yogurt panna cotta with drunken prunes. Never had it before. Never heard of it for that matter. I said I’d take a taste. I had two servings. It is now one of my favorite desserts.

add sugar and cream to the warmed gelatin and milk



Panna cotta means cooked cream in Italian (oh, I love those Italians). It is a versatile and simple dessert. Easy to prepare and elegant to serve up. I’ve had versions ranging from tangy yogurt panna cotta to sinfully creamy cinnamon panna cotta with full cream. This one is half whole milk and half cream – still pretty rich and delightful.

flavored with vanilla



My favorite way to serve panna cotta is in little servings. I’ve made them in molds before and it made me swear a lot. That’s probably just me, but these tiny servings are perfect little pick-me-ups or pre-desserts or even chaser desserts! Jeremy had one for brekkie this morning.

just a shot



Okay, but Jeremy wouldn’t be sold on panna cotta alone. The reason he loves this panna cotta is because I add a little something extra to it. Something that caffiends like him cannae resist.

more gelatin and some water

…and enough espresso powder to fuel your rocket



When the panna cotta sets, I pour a cooled layer of espresso-flavored gelatin on top. Espresso to Jeremy is like chum to sharks. It’s good stuff, I just try not to eat too much of it (Ass Reduction Plan is in full swing).

a tasty way to get hopped up



Espresso Panna Cotta
[print recipe]

panna cotta
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 envelope powdered gelatin (1/8 oz.)
1 tsp vanilla extract

espresso jello
4 tsps instant espresso powder
1/2 envelope powdered gelatin (1/8 oz.)
10 oz. water
2 oz. brown sugar

Panna cotta: sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup milk in a pan for 3 minutes or until dissolved. Add sugar and remaining milk. Heat over medium flame until sugar and gelatin are dissolved, but take care not to boil. Remove from heat and stir in the cream and the vanilla. Pour into vessels and refrigerate until set (a few hours depending on volume).

Espresso jello: Heat water to a boil. Remove from heat and sprinkle gelatin over the water. Stir until dissolved. Add espresso powder and brown sugar. Stir until dissolved and let cool. Pour over set panna cotta and refrigerate until jello layer is set.

38 nibbles at “a little pick me up”

  1. DianaBanana says:

    mmmm, jell-i-fied, separated cappuccino….it looks too pretty to plunge a spoon into though! you should try sweetening the milk with honey the next time you make plain panna cotta. they don’t call it the land of milk and honey for nothing!

    have you tried making yogurt panna cotta? i’m curious as to what ratio to use for a tangy pan-gurt cotta. offhand i’d think you’d want to use strained greek yogurt…

  2. linda says:

    Love the panna cotta shots! Great combo with the coffee layer.

  3. Chuck says:

    I love the little servings and the concept of a chaser dessert! I’ve been caffeine free for almost 15 years now, except for the minuscule amount you get in chocolate (can’t give that up). I would be up for two days straight if I had a few shots of this lovely dessert!

  4. Maya says:

    I have a confession….I love your dog! She is ADORABLE!!!!!!! Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy your blog and food looks great but I keep coming back just to catch a glimpse of the beautiful pup.

  5. matt wright says:

    I am a first time visitor to your blog, these look really amazing. I love panna cotta, and this is a cool way to serve it.

    Some interesting possibilities of this spring to mind too.. you could easily do it with a fruit puree instead of the coffee, which would be great in the summer.

  6. cakewardrobe says:

    This is so sophisticated! The recipe and the shots are lovely!

  7. Jenny DeMilo says:

    Amazing, simply amazing. i cant wait to make this and wow everyone i know!

  8. Isa says:

    Lovely! They look so elegant… and very delicious too! I like the contrast between the “white” panna cotta and the “black” of the esspreso jello.

  9. katy says:

    just gorgeous. i love the way multiple-layer desserts look! did you see the pierre herme trick on tartelette a few weeks ago about using an egg carton to make zigzag layers?

  10. Taylor says:

    I must confess, I’ve never had this before, but it sure looks great.
    Kisses to that adorable dog of yours!

  11. AppetiteforChina says:

    These look amazing. Great excuse to have panna cotta for breakfast!

  12. Susan at StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says:

    That is just brilliant! It looks so pretty! The coffee layer takes it to the next level. I’m a sucker for panna cotta and this one has just joined my repertoire! :)

  13. Jaime says:

    i have been wanting to make some panna cotta! have never made it before. your presentation for this is great! my hubby would love the coffee addition

  14. peabody says:

    Those are gorgeous!
    My dog seems to have the same job as yours! :)

  15. Astrid says:

    Your posts are such fun to read. But more than fun, their beauty is inspiring. How do you take all these action shots while cooking? I don’t think I’m that fond of panna cotta (gelatin…) but this would definitely tempt me.

  16. Micka says:

    I love reading/watching your blog!! So much fun!
    And love seeing what your dog is doing or not doing…
    meanwhile, back at the ranch, (uh, small apartment in big city)
    I am gearing up to try the sour cream coffee cake from a previous
    post…and I really appreciate the photos and commentary you’ve
    included, it helps this little weenie wanna-be baker!!
    Thanks for your wonderful blog!

  17. Tartelette says:

    No snoring dog but one that sleeps in a corner with all fours up in the air…when he is not sleeping he is running!! The panna cottas are so elegant and I get Jeremy loved having some when he returned! I know I would!!

  18. Amy says:

    I would probably eat all three of those shots. :D

  19. SallyBR says:

    Nice panacotta indeed! What a wonderful way to present it – I might make it for hubby next weekend, we are both coffee-addicts

    by the way, just wanted to say I made your crockpot beef last week – but since the post is waaaaay at the bottom, I decided to let you know here :-)

    excellent! I was a bit skeptical because I normally don t use the crockpot for beef dishes – it seemed to me that they always got that “crockpot” taste. But I trust your taste buds – decided to go for it. Very good flavor! I have some leftovers in the freezer, which I’ll incorporate in some kind of a pasta dish.

  20. jenyu says:

    Diana – I have made a yogurt panna cotta version, and I used regular yogurt. Here’s a link to the recipe from The Kitchen: http://www.thekitchencafe.com/thekitchen_148.shtml

    Linda – thanks!

    Chuck – I don’t do caffeine either, so I usually hover around Jeremy while he breaks through the espressso layer and I taste the panna cotta underneath :)

    Maya – good gracious, where are you when we need a dog-sitter?!?! :)

    Matt – yup, I’ve done one with cherry sauce and one with raspberry jello on top. I like the fruity ones, but the guy loves his espresso :)

    Cakewardrobe – thank you!

    Jenny – it’s really easy, I hope you like it!

    Isa – yes, I agree that the dark and white contrast look neat :)

    Katy – of course I saw it! Tartelette is brilliant, no? Of course, I’m lazy and I go for horizontal layers here ;)

    Taylor – thanks :)

    AppetiteforChina – yeah, he’ll make any excuse to have dessert for brekkie!

    Susan – thanks love. It’ll have you hoppin’!

    Jaime – this one is surprisingly easy to make, so I hope you guys like it.

    Peabody – they were probably hired by the same company, no? ;) I’m still waiting for her paychecks to come in though…

    Astrid – thanks! I use a tripod for all of my shots.

    Micka – thank you for your really sweet comment. You’re not a wanna-be-baker, if you bake, you’re a baker in my book! :)

    Tartelette – if he’s not sleeping or running, he’s steeling your cinnamon buns :) You flatter me, dear. Don’t forget I’ve seen your creations on your blog… I know the gorgeous desserts you make put mine to shame! ;) xxoo

    Amy – guess who did! (not I and not the dog…)

    Sally – awesome, I’m so happy you liked the recipe! It’s a good one (especially because it’s so easy).

  21. Judy says:

    We must be on the same wavelength. I just posted a vanilla/milk chocolate panna cotta combo on the 20th. So, now, tell me — what are we making next? ; )

  22. Maja says:

    When i saw this recipe, i had to call my bf, he’s suck a coffee sucker i knew he would fell for them. He immediately requested i made them … but i’m waiting for a clean kitchen first. ;) All the best to you and Jeremy, Maja

  23. Angela says:

    I love panna cotta and I love espresso. The combination looks absolutely heavenly. Thanks for the great posting and photos!

  24. jenyu says:

    Judy – Mmmm, that sounds great! So did you make fondue too?? :)

    Maja – oh, I hope you guys liked the panna cotta with espresso jello! I know what you mean about clean kitchens too ;) xxoo

    Angela – you’re very welcome!

  25. White On Rice Couple says:

    Oh lucky pups! She’s definitely loved!
    And these panna cotta look beautiful Jen! Todd is totally bowing down to you right now because he loves expresso too!

  26. Christine says:

    Wow, such a sophisticated and elegant dessert! It reminds me of a dessert my mom used to make using agar-agar. She’d layer the bottom layer with coconut milk jelly and the top layer was coffee jelly. I love all your small serving size desserts – perfect for ARPs, really :)

  27. Sarah says:

    That looks awesome!

  28. jenyu says:

    WoRC – they’re super easy to make and you will have T wrapped around your little finger (I mean more than he is already!) :)

    Christine – mmmm, coconut milk jelly! I hope you’ll post that someday :) Yeah, the small servings are great. Jeremy gets around it by eating two or three at a time – ha ha!

    Sarah – thanks :)

  29. Marija says:

    Hi, Jen
    I made your panna cottas and they were absolutely great. Although, I had the same problem as you did with getting them out of the molds. Next time I’ll try adding a little bit more gelatin. Anyway, great recipe!

  30. jenyu says:

    Marija – yeah, those molds are tough. I think dipping them in hot water and then trying to unmold might help, but that gets messy :(

  31. Sheetal says:

    I just love your lingo!!!!

  32. jenyu says:

    Sheetal – ;)

  33. Futons says:

    My goodness your dog is beautiful! He looks so peaceful too.

  34. Sue j says:

    Have you tried putting the espresso at the bottom? it looks wonderful and adds to the layered, shot like effect of the dessert when served in 1/4 cup macciato glasses. Mine went down a treat this Christmas

  35. Sue j says:

    Forgot to say I make mine with real espresso made into a syrup with equal sugar, and definately full cream for the vanilla panna cotta

  36. Brooke W. says:

    Just wondering how many shot glasses this recipe filled. Am I missing that somewhere in the recipe?

  37. jenyu says:

    Brooke – This should make about 8 panna cotta in 5-oz. glasses. If you use real shot glasses, you’ll probably wind up with around 16 or so.

  38. Brooke W. says:

    Thank you so much! I’m excited to try this recipe!

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