Coffee-Lemon Panna Cotta Parfait

By • April 18, 2011 25 Comments

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Author Notes: This is my adaptation of an old Claudia Fleming recipe that I first served at a dinner party years ago to rave reviews. The original was fabulous, but a touch sweet for my taste, so I’ve pulled some sugar from the dish, and swapped a lemon panna cotta for Claudia’s original orange to introduce a little more brightness and acidity (I also find the lemon to be a more interesting complement to coffee than orange). Her dish consisted of a base layer of coffee panna cotta, which I have modified to mocha with the help of a little bittersweet chocolate. Finally, rather than sandwich the coffee gelee in between the panna cotta layers as she did, I place it on top with the lemon panna cotta in the middle, this guarantees a little lemon with each bite of coffee, which I think is important to the balance of the dish. Might want to watch the kidlets around this one, it’ll get them buzzing.....
Oui, Chef

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Serves 6

  • 2 3/4 cups heavy cream, separated
  • 6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar, separated
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder, or Starbucks VIA micro-ground coffee, separated
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon microplaned lemon zest
  • 3 teaspoons powdered gelatin, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
  1. Prepare 6 martini or parfait glasses for your desserts.
  2. For the MOCHA panna cotta, take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and place it in a small bowl, sprinkle the cream with 1 teaspoon of the powdered gelatin and let sit 5-10 minutes to hydrate. Take an additional 1 1/4 cups of the cream and place it in a small sauce pan with 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of espresso powder, or Starbucks VIA micro-ground coffee (I use Italian Roast VIA). Bring just to a simmer over medium heat, whisking to melt the sugar and incorporate the coffee. Turn the heat to low and add the cream and gelatin mix, whisk until the gelatin is fully melted, then pull from the heat and toss in the chopped bittersweet chocolate. Let sit about 1 minute to allow the chocolate to melt a little, then whisk to fully incorporate. Pour the finished mix through a fine mesh strainer into a heatproof liquid measuring cup, then carefully pour (equally) into each of the six prepared glasses. Cover each with plastic wrap, then place in the fridge for about an hour for the gelatin to set.
  3. For the LEMON panna cotta, take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and place it in a small bowl, sprinkle the cream with 1 teaspoon of the powdered gelatin and let sit 5-10 minutes to hydrate. Take an additional 1 cup of the cream and place it in a small sauce pan with 2 tablespoons of sugar,1 tablespoon of micro-planed lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste. Bring just to a simmer over medium heat, whisking to melt the sugar and incorporate the lemon and vanilla. Turn the heat to low and add the cream and gelatin mix, whisk until the gelatin is fully melted, then pull from the heat. Pour the finished mix into a heatproof liquid measuring cup, then let it come to just above room temperature (if its too hot when you add it to the glass, it may melt your first set layer of panna cotta) before removing the glasses from the fridge and carefully pouring (equally) into each of the six prepared glasses to form a second layer of panna cotta. If you wish to remove the lemon zest before adding it to the glass, you may pour the mix through a fine mesh strainer before proceeding (I like the texture and taste of the zest in the final dish, so I skip this straining step). Cover each with plastic wrap, then place in the fridge for about another hour for the gelatin to set.
  4. For the COFFEE gelee, take 1/4 cup of water and place it in a small bowl, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the powdered gelatin and let sit 5-10 minutes to hydrate. Take an additional 3/4 cups of water and place it in a small sauce pan with 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of espresso powder, or Starbucks VIA micro-ground coffee (I use Italian Roast VIA). Bring just to a simmer over medium heat, whisking to melt the sugar and incorporate the coffee. Turn the heat to low and add the water and gelatin mix, whisk until the gelatin is fully melted, then pull from the heat. Pour the finished mix into a heatproof liquid measuring cup, then let it come to just above room temperature (if its too hot when you add it to the glass, it may melt your second set layer of panna cotta) before removing the glasses from the fridge and carefully pouring (equally) into each of the six prepared glasses to form the final layer of the dessert. Cover each with plastic wrap, then place in the fridge for about an hour for the gelatin to set.
  5. Serve slightly cool or at room temperature, not straight from the fridge.

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