Coffee & Cream Panna Cotta with Warm Chocolate Sauce

coffee and cream panna cotta with choc sauce

coffee and cream panna cotta with chocolate sauce and chocolate covered coffee beans

Who doesn’t like coffee. Yes, there are those who don’t. What is wrong with you people? Seriously. Please. Maybe I’m joking. Maybe not…To each his own. Coffee with cream, first thing in the morning- that first sip is like nirvana to me. I stumble over anything in my way, to make it to the coffee pot. I live for coffee. Right now in Arizona we are experiencing monsoon season and it’s a bit more humid than normal. You can’t really use that phrase- “It’s a DRY heat” right now, but that just means I have to find other ways to come up with treats without using the oven. Enter stage left- panna cotta. It’s the perfect summer dessert because it requires only turning on the burner for a few minutes. It’s cool, it’s creamy, and hits the spot.

Panna Cotta

yield: 6-8 servings depending on size of ramekins

1 package (1/4 oz.) unflavored gelatin (such as Knox)

2 Tbsp. cool water

2 Cups heavy cream

1 Cup whole milk

3/4 Cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste (1 tsp. vanilla may be substituted also)

2 Tbsp. instant espresso powder

For Serving: chocolate sauce (recipe below) and purchased chocolate covered coffee beans (optional)

1. In a small custard cup or microwave safe bowl place 2 Tbsp. cool water and sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let sit about 5 minutes to bloom. Place 4.5 oz. – 6 oz. clean ramekins on a sheet pan or in a shallow pan that will fit in your fridge level.

Tip: If you don’t have or don’t want to purchase ramekins- save your (small) shallow yogurt containers and wash out and use in place of ramekins.

2. In a small saucepan place the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla bean paste, and espresso powder and whisk to combine. Heat GENTLY over medium heat until very hot but not boiling, whisking frequently. While mixture is heating microwave the gelatin mixture for about 10 seconds until liquid. Once cream mixture is hot (but not boiling) stir in the liquid gelatin mixture and whisk to combine. Pour mixture into each ramekin and place in fridge for several hours or overnight to firm up. Serve cold or cool panna cotta with warm chocolate sauce and chocolate espresso beans.

To turn out panna cotta’s: Fill a shallow pan or bowl with 1 inch of boiling water. Run a sharp thin knife around the edge of each panna cotta to loosen, then set each ramekin in the bowl of hot water for about 10 seconds. Place a small serving plate on top of each ramekin and flip over to unmold. Spoon a bit of warm chocolate sauce around the panna cotta and sprinkle with 2-3 chocolate covered espresso beans.

Chocolate Sauce

4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (about scant 3/4 Cup)

1/4 Cup heavy cream

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. light corn syrup

In a heat proof bowl (such as pyrex) place the chocolate. In a glass measuring cup place the cream, butter, and corn syrup and heat on high in microwave for about 1 minute until mixture is very hot- stopping half way to stir. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute then stir until smooth. If necessary you can return the bowl to the microwave and heat in 10 second intervals until mixture is smooth, stirring as you go along.

White Chocolate Raspberry Creme Brulee

Do you like to entertain but you don’t want to be cutting or scooping out any dessert at the last minute? Yep, me too. You can make these ahead of time a few hours before your event or party and if you want to have the fun and include your guests you can even wait to brulée the tops of the custards with your friends if you like. Summer is the perfect time to find ripe raspberries on sale.

raspberry white chocolate creme brulee

White Chocolate Crème Brulée with Raspberries

recipe: adapted from Ghirardelli

yield: 6-7 ramekins (depending on the size of your ramekins)

4 large egg yolks

1/3 Cup sugar + (4-6 tsp. more for brulee)

4 oz. white chocolate chopped fine

2 Cups heavy whipping cream

3/4 tsp. vanilla bean paste

fresh raspberries washed and dried

1. Preheat oven to 300° F.

2. Whisk egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until smooth in a medium size mixing bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a saucepan. Turn off the heat and add the chopped white chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Temper the egg sugar mixture with the hot cream mixture by add in a little bit at a time while whisking until all the hot cream is added. Whisk in the vanilla bean paste. Place 4-5 raspberries in each individual ramekins and then pour the custard into each ramekin; filling almost all the way to the top. Place the ramekins in a baking pan with 2 inch sides. Pour enough hot tap water into the bottom of the baking pan so that the ramekins are sitting in enough water to cover at least 1/2 of the ramekin. Bake at 300° F for 50-60 minutes or until custard is set. Remove the pan from the oven and move the ramekins to a rack to cool for about 20 minutes.

3. Sprinkle each ramekin with enough sugar (about 1 1/4 tsp) and brulée each with a bakers’ torch or under the broiler until sugar is caramelized. Chill the custards until ready to serve. Serve ideally within a few hours of making as raspberries tend to give off a bit of liquid.

Coconut Panna Cotta

Coconut panna cotta is what you are looking for when it’s hot and sticky and you want something cold and creamy but not necessarily ice cream. This is the perfect treat. Super creamy, smooth and cold it is a nice treat on an afternoon after running errands. At least that is my excuse and I’m sticking with it. This is also a great dessert for a summer dinner party since you can make it up ahead of time. Enjoy the summer.

Coconut Panna Cotta 1

Coconut Panna Cotta 2

Coconut Panna Cotta

recipe: Donna Hay

yield: 4 servings

2 tsp. warm water

1 tsp. powdered gelatin

2 Cups coconut cream

1/4 Cup castor sugar

2 tsp. lime juice

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1. In a small bowl place warm water and sprinkle gelatin mixture over the water evenly. Set aside for 5 minutes to bloom. Brush 4 cups or containers lightly with vegetable oil.

2. In a small saucepan place coconut cream, sugar, lime juice and vanilla. Bring just to a boil. Add the bloomed gelatin and stir and heat gently over medium low heat until gelatin mixture is incorporated. Pour mixture into containers and place in the fridge to chill and become set.

3. When panna cotta is set, take them out from the fridge and using your index finger pull gently away from the side of the containers to release the air seal. Choose a plate you want to serve the panna cotta on and place over the container, then turn over to release the panna cotta onto the plate.

4. Serve panna cotta cold with tropical fruit such as mango or pineapple.

Easy Strawberry Mousse

I have to admit, the only reason I made strawberry mousse this week was because I have these silicon half moon shaped molds that I’ve been dying to try out. I actually bought them a long time ago, but have never used them. I wanted to make pretty domed shaped mousse. I have a lot of silicon baking pans/molds and I swear by them. They have become my absolute favorite, and the best part is that you can shove them into a drawer and I mean literally shove. I stayed pretty simple for this recipe, but you could top the molds with a piece of store bought poundcake and when you flip the mousse out you would have a nice mousse topped dessert. The mousse would also be great as a filling for a layered cake–just make sure to use a springform pan if you decide to use it for that purpose.

Strawberry Mousse

mousse filled silicone molds


Strawberry Mousse


yield: 4 Cups

5 Cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

1/3 Cup sugar

1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. water

2 tsp. unflavored gelatin powder

3/4 Cup heavy cream

purchased pound cake (optional)

(whipped) heavy cream (optional for topping)

extra fresh berries (optional for topping)

1. In a small saucepan over very low heat, cook the berries, sugar, lemon juice, and water until very liquid, about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a sieve and let cool completely. You should have about 1  1/4 Cups of strawberry juice.

2. Pour 3/4 cup of the juice into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface to soften.

3. Reheat the remaining juice until it is warm to the touch. Add the softened gelatin mixture to the warm juice and whisk until the gelatin has completely dissolved.

4. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium peaks. Fold one-third of it into the strawberry mixture. Gently fold in the remainder until no streaks remain. Pour mousse into a bowl or small molds, or ramekins, or wine glasses, and chill. If desired, place cut out rounds of pound-cake on top of the mousse molds. If using molds– to unmold, dip the molds or ramekins in hot water for a few seconds and invert on a plate, decorate with whipped cream and fresh berries.

Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

I have a childhood confession. I used to steal blackberries from the neighbor’s yard; but it’s okay because my Mother made me do it. She doesn’t remember this, but I remember it vividly as if  it were  yesterday. We had an old man who lived behind us that had an amazing garden. He scared the living daylights out of me. His garden had wonderful plump blackberries. That garden of his was like something out of a Secret Garden. True story book material. It was somewhat magical and grand. He was always tinkering in his big garden so it was hard to find the time when he was not around. I think I had his nap time figured out though. Just when the moment was right, I would bring my little Tupperware container and seize a few of those berries.

Then I would run like hell.

Technically is it stealing if those berries are crossed over into your property by say a half an inch or two? 🙂 If I were in that house today I would simply make these bars and ask him for some berries. I’m sure he would have approved.

Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars


8 large cinnamon graham crackers; crushed to a fine meal to equal 1 generous Cup crumbs

3 Tbsp. confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:

2 (8 oz). bars (16 oz. total) of cream cheese; softened to room temp

1 Cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup sour cream at room temp

3 Large eggs at room temp

1  1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

2 Tbsp. flour

1/3 Cup Blackberry seedless jam

1 Tbsp. water

fresh blackberries

Make the filling: Combine the cream cheese and sugar in an electric mixer and beat until smooth. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth. Stir in the vanilla bean paste. Add the eggs one at a time and combine until smooth. Stir in the flour. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the worker bowl to make sure all the cream cheese has been combined thoroughly.

1. Prepare an 8 inch pan with a double sling (so each side is covered) of tinfoil. Spray the foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F.

2. Pulse the graham crackers to a fine meal in either a food processor or blender; you should get about one generous Cup. Add the sugar and salt and melted butter and combine. Press into the bottom of your prepared pan and chill for 30 minutes. Bake the chilled crust for 10 minutes.

3. Prepare the filling while the crust chills.

4. Pour the filling into the pan and dot the filling with the blackberry jam by dropping teaspoons over the batter. Use a wooden skewer to swirl the jam. Lower the oven to 325 degrees.

5. Bake the bars at 325° degrees for 30-40 minutes until the filling is set but slightly soft in the center. let the bars cool in the pan on a wire rack until set. Chill the bars for 2-3 hours until very cold and remove the entire pan of bars carefully using the sling. Peel away the foil. Cut into bars. Decorate the top with fresh blackberries is desired.