Panna cotta always seemed fussy to make. But was I wrong. It’s as easy as brewing a strong cup of coffee and simmering milk, cream, sugar and a few extra ingredients in a pan. The results are rich nutty coffee and cream with a hint of chocolate crunch, you know, the kind of dessert you might want to serve on Oscar night and then again the next morning.
A few notes on the recipe. Typically, panna cotta is made with gelatin but this version uses agar powder (a neutral-tasting gelling agent made from seaweed) in its place. I prefer to use soy milk paired with cashew cream in this recipe but you can use dairy milk with equally good results. —artandlemons
To make cashew cream: grind 1 cup raw cashews with 1 cup water in a high speed blender until smooth and creamy—save extra to stir into oatmeal or soup.
Brush 4 to 6 ramekins or shallow cups with canola or other neutral-flavored oil. Place the milk, cashew cream, sugar, agar powder, vanilla, sea salt, and coffee in a medium pan. Whisk the ingredients together then allow mixture to rest for 10 minutes for the agar powder to dissolve.
Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and continue to simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the agar is incorporated. Remove from heat and stir in the cacao nibs. Pour into the prepared ramekins and chill uncovered for 2 hours. Serve inside the cups or unmold onto plates.