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We had dessert on the brain, and we wanted something creamy, a little sweet, and obviously simple to make. Something with just a few steps using a few basic ingredients. Panna cotta was the clear winner.

This sweet treat is a cream-based gelatin dessert. The cream is what gives it that rich texture, and the trick is to add just enough sugar and flavoring so it isn’t too rich or sweet. We decided to go for a coffee and vanilla flavor. If you want to experiment with more fruity flavors, keep the gelatin and cream the same, and just change the sugar to about 6 tablespoons.

Usually with a more neutral or fruity panna cotta we’d serve this with some raspberry or strawberry sauce, but with the distinct flavors of coffee and vanilla in this treat we just topped it with some dark chocolate shavings and mint leaves to end on a simple note and let the panna cotta speak for itself. Keep reading below for the recipe…

Coffee Vanilla Panna Cotta

(makes 4 servings)


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup espresso or very strong coffee
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 3 cardamom pods, split open with seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 envelope gelatin powder
  • Shaved dark chocolate and mint leaves for garnish


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream, coffee, vanilla bean, cardamom, cinnamon, and sugar up to a boil and immediately turn off the heat. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, ladle some of the cream mixture and add the gelatin powder. Whisk to dissolve completely.
  3. Pour the gelatin mixture back into the pot, and whisk to distribute evenly.
  4. Strain the mixture to remove the spices and any undissolved gelatin. Discard what’s in the strainer, and pour the cream mixture into ramekins (we used shot glasses to make interesting little ‘shooters’ so feel free to experiment with your own favored dish). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours.
  5. Top with garnish before serving.
  6. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Italy Yum