Panna Cotta with Espresso or Strawberry Gelee

This silky and voluptuous Honey-Vanilla Panna Cotta is so incredibly delicious. And, it’s a breeze to prepare! Who could ask for more?
June 04, 2010

About this recipe

How would you like to have an elegant, showstopping dessert recipe in your culinary arsenal that looks and tastes like it took all day to prepare, but didn’t? Sound appealing? Well look no further, because I’m about to share one with you that will knock the socks off of anyone you serve it to. This silky and voluptuous Honey-Vanilla Panna Cotta is so incredibly delicious. And, it’s a breeze to prepare! Who could ask for more?

Panna cotta literally translates as “cooked cream” in Italian. It’s a creamy and softly set Italian pudding made by simmering cream, milk and sugar together, mixing it with gelatin, and letting it cool until it sets into a luscious custard-like cloud. Panna cotta is a very versatile dessert that can be paired with a myriad of toppings like fresh, seasonal fruits and berries. It is also perfect for dinner parties because it can be made a day or two ahead and kept in the fridge until ready to serve.

Of course, the key to the success of this and any other recipe starts with good quality ingredients. I truly believe that this does does make a difference. The two main ingredients of panna cotta are milk and cream, so they need to be the best milk and cream that you can afford. Here in Sarasota, we’re fortunate to have a local dairy that produces really excellent products. Dakin Dairy Farms is located out east of town in Myakka City. It is a bit of a trek, but the good news is that their milk is widely available at numerous Sarasota, Bradenton and Venice locations, including Sweetbay. Plus, you can also find it, as well as their heavy cream, at our local area farmers markets. Both the milk and cream have that rich and lightly sweet dairy flavor that comes from very happy, grass-fed cows.

Panna cotta is often prepared in a mold and then turned out onto a platter for serving. I prefer to make individual servings housed in pretty little glasses, jars and cups. Sometimes, I serve it with bowls of fresh fruit and other toppings so that my guests can add whatever they like. This time, I topped them with a fresh strawberry gelee and an espresso gelee. Don’t let the fancy French name scare you. Both of these are quite easy to make.

If you’re looking for a new dessert recipe to impress your friends, or you just need to use up some cream, why not give this panna cotta a try. It’s like a little bite of heaven in a shot glass! Simply divine!


*To Prepare the Panna Cotta*

  1. Place the milk in a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let stand for about 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
  2. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the point of a sharp knife.
  3. Put saucepan over medium heat and stir until gelatin is just dissolved. Don’t boil the milk. Add the cream, honey, sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir until the sugar and honey dissolve, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Pour mixture into 6-8 small jars, cups or glasses until about 3/4 full to leave room for the toppings.
  5. Chill for at least 2 hours. Top with whatever toppings you’re using and chill again until set.

*To Prepare the Espresso Gelee*

  1. Heat water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and sprinkle gelatin over water. Stir until completely dissolved.
  2. Add espresso powder and brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Let mixture cool. You can put it in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes to speed things up.
  3. Pour cooled espresso mixture over set panna cotta and chill until jelled.

*To Prepare the Strawberry Gelee*

  1. Heat puree and sugar in a small saucepan just until it begins to bubble, stirring to dissolve sugar. Stir in lemon juice and remove from heat.
  2. Put water in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Add fruit mixture to the bowl and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.
  4. Let gelée cool and pour over panna cotta. Chill until set.


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
Espresso Gelee
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 envelope unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 10 ounces water
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Strawberry Gelee
  • 1 cup strawberry puree (1 pint fresh or thawed, frozen strawberries whizzed up in the blender)
  • 2-4 tablespoons sugar, depending upon how sweet your berries are
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 envelope unflavored powdered gelatin
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