Coffee Panna Cotta with Cacao Nibs

By artandlemons
April 18, 2011
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Author Notes: 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.

Serves: 4 to 6

  • 1 cup organic whole milk (soy or dairy)
  • 2 cups cashew cream (see below)
  • 1/2 cup natural cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons agar powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup strong-brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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