Irish Coffee Panna Cotta

panna cotta 001
This is my entry in The Daily Spud's St. Paddy's Day Food Parade.  Enjoy!  And please wander over there as well to check out all the other mouthwatering entries.  If you've found yourself here because of the Parade, welcome!

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. I know--It's very exciting. I'll give you a moment to compose yourself. Seems like just yesterday we were all pondering the greed, spite and political machinations that led to Caesar's brutal assassination.  And now, with barely time to take a breath, we all have to start dying our beer green and bedazzling Large Shiny Cardboard Shamrocks.  It's enough to make a girl need to take a break and try to gain some perspective on this particular slice of the Julian calendar year.

Whew.  I need some coffee.  Irish coffee.  But it's getting warm here, and I don't want hot coffee.  I'm not a huge fan of iced coffee since it gets all watered down and Dumb.  I do, however like a nice custard.  Custards are cool and comforting.  But eggy?  With coffee? No thanks. Not today, anyway.  I want my coffee egg-less.  And some booze?  Why, don't mind if I do!

Custard minus egg means one of two things to me.  One:  American pudding (okay, so I usually put egg in mine, but you don't have to) and panna cotta.  I thought panna cotta would be a lovely way to serve some Irish-inspired coffee, so I called up Italy and asked if they'd mind.  They said, "No, certo che no. Andate pure avanti!"  Well, that's what Google translate said that they said.  Anyway, Italy's tone of voice was Positive and Encouraging, so I just went with it.

I took my standard Panna Cotta formula:  1 cup dairy to 1 teaspoon gelatin and then went from there.  And here's what I came up with.

panna cotta 039
For the coffee layer

  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup Irish Cream Liqueur
  • about 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • about 3 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 4 teaspoons espresso powder (from the King Arthur people.  This stuff is magical)
  • 2 teaspoons gelatin

In a small-ish pot, sprinkle the gelatin over the half and half and liqueur.  Let bloom for about 5 minutes.

Heat until the gelatin is completely dissolved and the dairy is hot but not boiling--probably no hotter than 120F-130F.

Remove from heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients.  Taste and adjust salt/sugar/espresso powder as necessary

Strain into a Pouring Vessel and fill individual serving glasses/pots/whatever about 3/4 of the way.  Make sure your glasses are small.  This stuff is hugely rich, and I don't want you getting a tummy ache just because you feel the need to fill your pint glasses with the Divine Mixture.  Restraint is key here--your glasses should hold no more than 6 ounces.  Unless it's a Communal Dessert.  In which case, carry on.

Place the glasses in the fridge to set up for about an hour or two.

For the cream layer

  •  3/4 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1/4 cup Irish Cream Liqueur
  • pinch of salt
  • wee splash of vanilla
  • maybe 1-2 Tablespoons of sugar, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon gelatin

In a wee pot, bloom the gelatin for five minutes in 1/4 cup of the cream and all the liqueur.

Add the salt and sugar, and heat until the mixture is hot and the gelatin is melted (no graininess).   Taste.  The mixture should be a bit too sweet.  Set aside.

panna cotta 048
Whip the other 1/2 cup of cream and a splash of vanilla until it mounds softly but doesn't peak.  This will make the cream layer a little bit fluffy and mousse-like for a slight textural contrast with the jiggly-smooth, barely set coffee layer.

By this time, the liqueur mixture should be about room temperature or just slightly warm.  Whisk/fold in the whipped cream.  Pour over the set coffee layer almost to the Very Top.

Put back in the fridge to set up.

To serve, you can certainly just Dig On In, or you can whip some More cream (hey, it's a holiday) with some Irish Cream (and some Kahlua. Sue me) and top it.  You can also put a wee chocolate covered espresso bean on top.  Or not.  Or maybe sift a slight drift of cocoa powder on top.  Or not.  Serve with a crispy/crunchy item of your choice.  I am going with an Irish-inspired shortbread.  But I lost my phone and have been playing "text me your number" all day, so I haven't gotten around to making it yet.  Unless Horror occurs, that'll be tomorrow's post.

Anyway, I hope you've recovered from the Ides of March and that you have a Revelry-filled St. Patrick's Day.  Hey, I know!  Make some of this panna cotta.  I promise you'll be happy.

Have a lovely day!







  1. says

    Would you get a load of those panna cottas! I’m so pleased that Italy said you could play with their custards (and I will be very curious to see the shortbreads later). Happy Paddy’s Day to you m’lady 🙂

  2. says

    Oooh, aaah! Love this particular float in the Paddy’s Day Food Parade! I’ve never made panna cotta before, but then again, most recipe seem to take pleasure in making it seem like a mysterious concoction that mere mortals such as myself could never hope to attain. Thanks for breaking the spell! Now there’s no telling what I might panna-cotta-ize! 8-P

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

    • says

      That makes me very happy to hear, Tracey. The dairy to gelatin ratio is pretty standard, you can switch up the dairy however you like (coconut milk sounds reasonable, for example), sweeten to taste and flavor however you like. Easy. =D

      Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you, too!

  3. says

    Thanks for this great idea. My grandfather was very irish, but though we celebrated with corned beef, we always had cake with icing that said Erin Go Bragh (I think that’s right). Now though I wonder what traditional irish desserts are.

    • says

      Thanks, Greg:) There is something really off-putting about a “boingy” panna cotta. Or one that’s too “slick” in the mouth. For a simple dessert, it’s not necessarily easy. Learned a lot of tricks at the restaurant! 🙂

  4. says

    Hi Jenni,

    Thanks for checking out my Irish Coffee post. I had an incredible time in Ireland with my mom and it was made all the better as I got to hook up with the Daily Spud. It was our second in-person meeting (the first time was when she came to SF) and it just reinforced what an incredible person she is, so amazingly talented. Love reading her posts, although I am well behind lately.

    I look forward to checking out more of your blog. What I saw made me convinced I do not have enough hours in the day as you have me craving to get back into the kitchen.

    • says

      How wonderful–would love to hang out IRL with the wonderful DS. The Hinternets are great and all, but sharing a real cup of tea and hearing a person’s voice can make all the difference:) Glad you stopped by!


Speak Your Mind