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A Dessert to Impress

Coffee Panna Cotta with Salted Caramel, Whipped Cream and Hazelnuts

Panna cotta is a classic Italian dessert from the northern region of Piedmont. It varies in flavor but the joy it brings does not. It is a dish that has a built-in elegance that deceivingly looks difficult in preparation; however, like many Italian delicacies, it shines in its simplicity and is incredibly easy to make. The luscious, silky texture of a panna cotta is sure to impress any dinner guest. 


  • 1¼C coffee 

  • 1Tbsp gelatin 

  • ¾C brown sugar

  • 4C heavy cream (you’ll have a little extra)

  • 2½ Tsp vanilla 

  • 1C sugar

  • 5Tbsp butter, unsalted, cubed

  • ¼ C powdered sugar

  • ¼ C hazelnuts, toasted and chopped 

  • Salt


To prepare the coffee panna cotta base: 

In a saucepan over medium high heat, combine 1C coffee and gelatin, whisking continuously for a couple of minutes. Once the gelatin appears to be dissolved, add in brown sugar, 2 ½ C heavy cream, 1Tsp vanilla and a pinch of salt, and cook for another 5-7 minutes over medium heat, whisking regularly. The mixture will come to a boil, whisking ensures no burning on the bottom. 

Transfer panna cotta base to ramekins and chill for a minimum of 4 hours. I like to do mine overnight. Once cooled, enjoy by itself or with additional toppings. 

To prepare the salted coffee caramel: 

In a tall saucepan combine sugar with 2Tbsp of water, mix so the sugar is coated. Turn the heat onto medium high and do not whisk. Let the sugar cook until a caramel color starts to form around the edges, then gently swirl the pan until the entire mixture is a caramel color. Whisk in butter a cube at a time, then 1/3C heavy cream and whisk, then ½Tsp vanilla, ¼ C coffee, and a pinch of salt, continuously whisking. It is normal for the heavy cream to make the mixture bubble up; this is why you use a tall saucepan. Whisk and cook for another minute. Let cool, ready to use once room temperature. It will melt the cold panna cotta if served when it’s too warm. 

To prepare the whipped cream:

In a stand mixer, combine 1C cream, ¼ C powdered sugar and 1Tsp vanilla. Whisk until fluffy with stiff peaks. 

To assemble your panna cotta:

You can serve directly in the ramekin you baked the panna cotta in, simply by topping it with the caramel sauce, whipped cream and chopped hazelnuts. You can also plate them by running a warm butter knife around the edge of the ramekin. Gently tap and shake it out onto a plate, top with caramel, whipped cream, and hazelnuts. Enjoy! 

For more delicious recipes like this, follow @gennamarks on Instagram and TikTok.