I love making panna cotta for dessert, especially if I’m having guests over. It sounds fancy, it looks fancy, and it’s So. Ridiculously. Easy. Panna cotta makes me look good. Also, it takes less effort than a box of cake mix. I had an interesting conversation recently about how for kitchen novices, certain recipes and concepts will appear intimidating on the surface. However, if those same beginners can take a deep breath, relax, and read the recipe, they’ll realize it’s no big thing. Have you ever made Jello? Or maybe Jello shots in college? Cool, you can make panna cotta.
You’ll note that the recipe says 3 hours of prep time. That’s 3 hours in the fridge. I’m saying 15 minutes of active time here and that’s a stretch. Heat, stir, chill, serve. DONE.
I used Weck 1/5 liter tulip jars for serving, but you don’t have to use anything fancy. Wine glasses, small mason jars, or standard drinking glasses will all look great. The dessert is beautiful on it’s on. No need to purchase anything extra.
- 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
- 4 cup whole milk
- 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- ¾ cup good quality dark roast coffee or 2 shots espresso
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- In a large mixing bowl (preferably one with a spout), combine the gelatin with 1-2 tablespoons of water, enough to dissolve the powder. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk, sugar and vanilla in medium-sized saucepan set over medium-high heat. Whisk to help the sugar dissolve. Once the mixture is simmering, remove from the heat and pour over the gelatin. Whisk until the gelatin and milk are combined, gently scraping the bottom of the bowl to make none of the gelatin is left behind. (Note: If the milk foams up slightly, use a spoon to discard the foam before proceeding with the next step).
- Divide the mixture evenly between 6 serving cups (wine glasses or small mason jars are a great option). Place in the refrigerator until firm, at least 3 hours.
- Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan and turn the heat to medium high. Once the mixture is simmering, stir several times to help the sugar dissolve. You can either remove it from the heat as soon as the sugar dissolves, or let the syrup reduce for several minutes to a thicker consistency.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes, then stir in the coffee or espresso. Chill alongside the panna cotta.
- To serve, top each panna cotta with ¼ cup or more of the coffee syrup.