For chocolate lovers, this chocolate espresso panna cotta dessert is a dream come true. It's smooth and creamy with the perfect hint of dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth. This recipe requires some time in the kitchen but will be well worth the effort when you see how beautiful this dish looks and tastes at the end!
Chocolate Espresso Panna Cotta Recipe
If you have ever had panna cotta, then you know that there truly is nothing as creamy and decadent as this. Adding in chocolate and just a bit of espresso powder takes it from delicious to extraordinary.
It’s perfect as a delicious light after-dinner dessert with coffee, but also works well when eaten on its own at midday! This recipe is easy to make and doesn't require any baking so it's great if you're short of oven space or want to prepare it ahead of time. Of course, if you want something even lighter without the coffee flavor, you can always make this easy chocolate mousse recipe instead for a no-bake light dessert option.
What is Panna Cotta?
Simply put it's a custard which then gets set with gelatin to solidify. The light, creamy dessert is traditionally made of cream and sugar boiled together until thickened. Once cooled off, gelatin is poured over it and set in the fridge to allow it to firm up into its soft yet sturdy form.
Where Did Panna Cotta Come From?
Panna cotta is an Italian dessert that has been around for hundreds of years and is related to a French dish called crème pâtissière. The word "panna" comes from the Italian words meaning paste or cream, while "cotta" means cooked.
While it is made in a variety of flavors and sometimes even made with a custard base and gelatin top, the basics of the creamy base is what makes this panna cotta no matter what flavors you add.
Is Panna Cotta Like Creme Brulee?
Similar to creme brulee, panna cotta is made from cream and sugar that have been boiled until the mixture reaches a thick consistency. However, it differs in texture - traditionally being much softer than crème brûlée
You'll also notice that the panna cotta does not have the classic toasted sugar topping that you find on creme brulee. Plus, panna cotta is commonly made with a variety of flavors versus the traditional vanilla of a creme brulee.
Can I Use a Different Milk in Panna Cotta?
You can make panna cotta out of many different types of milk. For those who need a non-dairy milk option some options include soy, almond, or coconut milk. If you need another option you may also try goats milk in this recipe.
Most commonly, panna cotta is made with whole milk or heavy cream. You can also use my preference of full-fat coconut cream when possible due to the naturally thick and rich texture. It also pairs wonderfully with the coffee and chocolate for a creamy smooth result.
Flavor Variations for Panna Cotta
Panna cotta is a basic dessert that you can flavor with almost anything. It's typically flavored by adding vanilla extract. It's also not uncommon to add flavors like espresso powder (which adds coffee flavor without any caffeine), chopped dark chocolate, or even instant espresso granules! Below are some other flavors you may find that is delicious in this no-bake dessert.
- Mango, pineapple, or guava
- Strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, or raspberry
- Caramel or sea salt caramel
- White chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or mint chocolate
How Long is Panna Cotta Good For?
The best part about panna cotta is the long shelf life making it easy to prepare well in advance. It lasts for 7 to 10 days when stored properly in the refrigerator. You can make and pour into an air-tight container with a lid, or you can seal individual portion cups with plastic wrap or a beeswax wrap covering.
How Do I Keep a Skin From Forming on Top of the Panna Cotta?
To make sure the panna cotta doesn't form a skin, use plastic wrap and lightly cover it by carefully pressing the wrap to the top of the espresso panna cotta to maintain its velvety smooth texture.
- Dark chocolate chunks
- Coconut cream
- Light brown sugar
- Instant espresso powder
- Unflavored gelatin or agar agar
Handy Kitchen Tools
- Large heavy bottom saucepan
- Small heavy bottom saucepan
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Dessert cups or serving glasses
How to Make Chocolate Espresso Panna Cotta
In a large saucepan, over low heat, add the chocolate.
Add in the coconut cream, sugar, and espresso powder and stir to combine.
Continue stirring until the chocolate is completely melted with no lumps. Remove from heat.
In a separate small saucepan, heat ¼ cup water until just boiling, then remove from heat and add in the gelatin or agar agar and stir constantly until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Pour the dissolved gelatin mixture into the chocolate and cream mixture and whisk together.
Turn the heat to low temperature, and let the cream simmer, stirring regularly, for 3 minutes.
When it begins to thicken, remove it from the heat.
Pour into serving dishes or a a dish with lid and let sit cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, refrigerate for at least 30-minutes before serving. Top with an additional dusting of espresso powder on top.
Top with whipped cream if desired.
Serving Tips for Chocolate Espresso Panna Cotta
While panna cotta is typically served in small bowls, some at-home cooks prefer to use decorative molds to set the panna cotta. Before serving, you can remove from the mold and top with whipped cream or other favorite toppings.
Serve in martini glasses as an elegant alternative to small dishes or bowls. Wide mouth glass jars are also a popular, yet simple way to serve this dessert. Below are some fun ways to top your dessert that add to the experience and flavor.
- Fresh whipped cream and sliced strawberries for a fresh way to balance the rich chocolate and espresso flavors.
- Dark chocolate shavings, chopped chocolate, or white chocolate chips are the perfect topping for chocolate lovers.
- Chopped hazelnuts or almonds add a nice crunch that looks great too.
- Different fruit toppings like blueberries or raspberries dress up this simple recipe with a bit of color.
- Chocolate or caramel drizzle is always a delicious choice.
More No Bake Recipes
Need more no-bake inspiration on your menu? Below you are going to find some delicious and easy to make options filled with flavor and ideal for serving up without turning the oven on!
- Easy No-Bake Banana Pudding Recipe
- Fluffy No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe
- The Best No-Bake OREO Cheesecake Recipe
- Decadent No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake
- Easy Traditional Tiramisu Recipe
- ½ cup dark chocolate chunks (80 g)
- 2 cups coconut cream (475 ml)
- ¼ cup light brown sugar (55 g)
- 1 tsp instant espresso
- ¼ cup hot water (59 ml)
- ½ tsp agar agar or 4 tsp gelatin
- In a large saucepan, over low heat, add the chocolate.
- Add in the coconut cream, sugar, and the espresso powder and stir to combine.
- Continue stirring until the chocolate is completely melted with no lumps. Remove from heat.
- In a separate small saucepan, heat ¼ cup water until just boiling, then remove from heat and add in the gelatin or agar agar and stir constantly until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
- Pour the dissolved gelatin mixture into the chocolate and cream mixture and whisk together.
- Turn the heat to low temperature, and let the cream simmer, stirring regularly, for 3 minutes.
- When it begins to thicken, remove it from the heat.
- Pour into serving dishes or a a dish with lid and let sit cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, refrigerate for at least 30-minutes before serving.
- Top with whipped cream and an additional dusting of espresso powder on top.
If substituting the gelatin with agar agar, you will need to change measurements. 1 teaspoon agar agar is equal to 8 teaspoons gelatin.
This recipe uses ½ teaspoon agar agar or 4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 734Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 28gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 69mgCarbohydrates: 107gFiber: 2gSugar: 101gProtein: 5g