This creamy coffee panna cotta recipe is super easy to prepare with 5 ingredients and in less than 15 minutes. It is the perfect no bake dessert to serve at a fancy dinner party or for a special occasion!
Why we love this recipe
It doesn't get easier than a Panna Cotta when it comes to delicious, impressive yet simple dessert. If you like coffee flavor in desserts, you will simply love this coffee panna cotta recipe.
It is such a quick and easy dessert to prepare but is sure to wow your guests. With a handful of basic ingredients and less than 15 minutes, you get an amazing make-ahead dessert you won't want to stop eating!
What is Panna Cotta
Panna cotta is a classic Italian dessert known for its creamy and silky texture. It's made by mixing a sweetened, flavoured cream with gelatine. Once set, you get a delicious, delicate wobbly custard that is both light and creamy.
Scroll down to recipe card below for all quantities
What is coffee panna cotta made of:
- Milk: use Full Cream / Whole Milk. You can use a plant-based alternative to make this panna cotta dairy-free.
- Cream: Thickened / Heavy Cream that contains at least 30% fat. Again, you can use a plant-based alternative as long as it has a similar fat content. Also note that certain plant-based creams have a strong natural flavour which will change the overall taste of the dessert.
You can make panna cotta with just milk (for a much lighter texture) or just cream (for a richer dessert), but I find that a mix of both gives you the perfect light yet creamy result.
- Sugar: caster sugar or fine white granulated sugar.
- Coffee: I used instant coffee granules here but you can also use instant espresso powder. If the coffee you use doesn't fully dissolve, make sure to pour the hot liquid through a sieve to remove any beans before adding the gelatine.
- Gelatine: I used platinum strength gelatin powder dissolved in a little bit of cold water. See FAQs section below for gelatine sheets substitution.
You can add a teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla paste for even more flavour.
Topping & flavour variation
I finished the coffee panna cottas with a simple dollop of whipped cream dusted with espresso powder. This is optional and you could serve the dessert as is.
For an even more decadent dessert, you could also associated the coffee cream with a chocolate topping such as this chocolate crémeux, namelaka or chocolate whipped ganache. Or keep the whipped cream and use shaved chocolate, chocolate curls or even chocolate sprinkles as a topping!
How to make Coffee Panna Cotta step-by-step
- Place the milk, cream, sugar and instant coffee granules in a small saucepan. Whisk well to combine.
- Photo 1: turn on medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. Keep on whisking until the coffee granules have completely dissolved. Once it starts to simmer, remove from the heat.
You don't need to boil the liquid here as gelatin melts at around 40 degrees Celsius.
- In the meantime, prepare the gelatin mixture: sprinkle the gelatin powder in a small bowl and add 1 to 2 tablespoon of very cold water. Stir well to combine then set aside until it sets into a thick paste.
- Photo 2: away from the heat, add the gelatin to the cream mixture and whisk really well until it is completely dissolved.
If using gelatin leaves, place them in a bowl with very cold water before starting to make the panna cotta. Once the liquid is hot, press the leaves between your hands over the sink to strain and remove as much water as possible.
- Photo 3: pour the coffee panna cotta mixture into a large jug through a thin-mesh sieve to remove any air bubbles or undissolved bits of coffee.
- Photo 4: pour the panna cotta into your preferred dessert cups, glasses, ramekins or serving dishes.
- Place in the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. The panna cottas should be fully set but remain wobbly.
You can serve the coffee panna cotta as is, or top them with a little bit of whipped cream (made from simply whipping heaving cream with a little bit of icing sugar / powdered sugar) and instant coffee powder.
Although the texture of custard is relatively similar to panna cotta, the main difference is that panna cotta is set with gelatin while a custard uses cooked eggs (or egg yolks) - or a mix of egg and starch.
I used platinum strength gelatine powder here. To substitute powder for sheets, use 2 platinum strength gelatine sheets per 1 teaspoon of gelatine powder.
So to make this coffee panna cotta, you will need 4 gelatine sheets (platinum strenght).
Yes, but the instructions will be slightly different as agar agar dissolves and activates at a much higher temperature than gelatine. It is also much stronger than gelatine, so you will need a much smaller quantity of agar agar.
Bring the coffee cream mixture to a boil and add 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon agar agar powder (depending on the texture you want). Whisk well for a couple of minutes over medium heat, then pour directly into the serving cups. Agar will start to set as soon as the temperature drops so make sure to be quick.
Tips & Tricks
- The texture of the dessert will depend on the amount of gelatin you use. I prefer panna cotta to on the lighter, creamier side so I use a relatively low quantity of gelatin. For a more set, jelly-like texture, you could slightly increase the quantity of gelatin.
- Gelatine come in different strength so some might be stronger than others. For this recipe, I used platinum strength gelatin powder. If using a stronger (or weaker) gelatine, make sure to adjust the quantities.
- To maximise the coffee flavour, crush some fresh coffee beans (instead of instant coffee) and let them infuse in the warm liquid overnight. Pour the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve the next day and discard the beans.
Storing & Freezing
The coffee panna cotta should be stored in the refrigerator and is best served within two to three days. I recommend adding your choice of toppings just before serving the dessert.
The panna cotta is a great make-ahead dessert since it needs to set in the fridge for a few hours - or up to 24 hours in advance.
Panna cotta do not freeze well.
Made this recipe?
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Coffee Panna Cotta
Coffee Panna Cotta
- 360 ml Full Cream / Whole Milk
- 360 ml Thickened / Heavy Cream - 30% fat content
- 80 gr Caster Sugar
- 15 gr Instant Coffee Granules - or instant espresso powder
- 7 gr (2 teaspoon) Gelatine Powder - + 1 tablespoon cold water
Whipped Cream (optional)
- 120 ml Thickened / Heavy Cream - 30% fat content min.
- 20 gr Icing Sugar
- Espresso Powder, to taste
I highly recommend using the measurements in grams & ml (instead of cups & spoons) for more accuracy and better results.
Coffee Panna Cotta
- Place the milk, cream, sugar and instant coffee granules in a small saucepan. Place on medium-low heat and whisk well until fully combined and the coffee has completely dissolved. Bring to a simmer then remove from the stove (see note 1).
- While the liquids are heating up, prepare the gelatin mixture: sprinkle the gelatin powder in a small bowl and add 1 to 2 tablespoon of very cold water. Stir well to combine then set aside for a few minutes or until it has set into a thick paste (see note 2).
- Away from the heat, add the gelatin paste to the warm cream mixture and whisk really well until it has completely dissolved.
- Pour the coffee panna cotta mixture into a large jug through a thin-mesh sieve to remove any air bubbles or undissolved bits of coffee. From the jug, pour the mixture into your choice of dessert cups, glasses, ramekins or serving dishes.
- Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. The coffee panna cotta should have set but still be wobbly.
Whipped Cream (optional)
- Before serving (or up to 1 hour in advance), prepare the whipped cream topping: place the cold cream and sifted icing sugar in a large bowl (if using a hand mixer) or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Whisk on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until the cream starts to thicken, then slowly increase to high speed until you get the desired whipped cream consistency (see note 3).
- Place a dollop or cream over each set panna cotta, or use a pastry bag fitted with a large round piping tip to pipe the whipped cream into a small mound. Sift a little bit of fine espresso powder over the cream and serve straight away.
Tried this recipe? Make sure to leave a comment and star rating below!
- You don't need to bring the liquid to a boil; gelatin melts at around 40 degrees Celsius.
- If using gelatin leaves, place 4 platinum strength gelatin sheets in a bowl filled with very cold water before starting heat up the liquids. Once the cream mixture is hot, press the leaves between your hands over the sink to strain and remove as much water as possible and had them in.
- It is easy to over-whip the cream, which will give you a slightly grainy texture. Once the cream starts to reach the desired consistency, decrease the speed to low or simply switch to a hand-held whisk to avoid over-whipping it.