Dessert, Gluten-free, Spoon desserts

Coffee Panna Cotta (Panna Cotta al Caffe’)

Nicoletta November 25, 2017

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Coffee Panna Cotta (Panna Cotta al Caffe’) is our third recipe chosen from Lidia Bastianich and Tania Bastianich Manuali’s new cookbook “Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian“. We are closing our week sharing some of their recipes, but we’re pretty sure there will be others to follow!

Song of the day: Time to Say Goodbye (Con Te Partirò) – Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman

Coffee Panna Cotta (Panna Cotta al Caffe')

N.: As all good things come to an end, this is the last recipe we’re reviewing from Lidia Bastianich’s new cookbook Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian“.  We’ve had a lot of fun in the kitchen and some pretty amazing meals. This cookbook is not going on the upper shelf of our kitchen cabinet, but it is definitely going to stick around.



L.: I always say that where one thing ends another begins, and working with this cookbook has given me a deep appreciation for Italian recipes and remembering that celebrating is such an important thing in our world of work, more work and busy lifestyles, especially the life of a food blogger.  It has also made me proud of being Italian even though I am Canadian born and has sparked so many heartfelt childhood memories, This might be the end of our cookbook review. It was hard to choose what recipes to do as there are so many fantastic ones. I am so excited about this book and look forward to sharing more with you!

What’s in the book you ask?

Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian – 220 Foolproof Recipes That Make Every Meal a Party“. Lidia and Tanya give us 220 incredibly mouthwatering recipes that are beautifully illustrated, easy to follow, worthy of any festive meal!

Chosen Recipes:

– Peperonata (Stewed Savory Peppers) (Page 46)

We talked about this recipe in this post and more about the cookbook review.

– Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage (Torta di Polenta, Gorgonzola, e Verze) (Page 194)

We talked about this recipe in this post.

Today’s Tested Recipes:

Pear and Chocolate Tart (Crostata di Pere e Cioccolata) (Page 344)

We had a bit of a mishap on this one in the final stages. It was not the fault of the recipe or preparation, just what we call kitchen accident. Either way, we still enjoyed it, not in the beautiful way that it appears in the book, but since the craze is deconstructed everything, let’s call it just that! We’re not sharing the final pictures when the cake had to come out of the pan and sit nicely in a dish because that did not happen and half of the delicate cake finished upside down on the kitchen counter. Reconstructed in the dish, it did not look half as good as it tasted.

This Pear and Chocolate Tart is not exactly a tart, but more like a pudding cake, as its ingredients are: Amaretti cookies, cocoa, eggs, cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and pears. And it bakes in a water bath in the oven. It was delicious, nonetheless, with its strong cocoa, Amaretto and vanilla flavor, and those juicy pears that keep their texture in the chocolate pudding. I had caramelized some more pear slices to put on top and that provided a nice sweetness to an otherwise not so sweet dessert. We might make it again, just for the sake of finishing what we started.

Coffee Panna Cotta (Panna Cotta al Caffe’) (Page 351)

L.: This is the reality of cooking or baking, things may not always work in your favor, and that is okay. No need to stress, have a good laugh, make some jokes, cut yourself some slack, take a look at the positives, and try again. That is exactly what we did, we cut our losses and decided to try another recipe, however, I am a Taurus, and if you know anything about bulls we don’t give up too easily, and the Pear Chocolate Tart has not seen the last of me. For now, our focus is panna cotta, and I am equally excited because I know, amore, that you are going to do a fine job. Yes, Nicoletta took the bull by the horns and while I was working like crazy at my day job, she was busy creating in the kitchen and from the look of things this one is far from a flop.

Coffee Panna Cotta (Panna Cotta al Caffe')

N.: I let a few days pass by, after making the Pear Chocolate Tart, and then geared up for the task of making this Coffe Panna Cotta. It is actually pretty easy to make and this was not my first rodeo with panna cotta (see my Saffron Panna Cotta), the only difference was the use of powdered gelatin in place of the gelatin sheets, which I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find. Loreto, again, came to the rescue and came back home with a bag full of goodies, including the powdered gelatin.

Coffee Panna Cotta (Panna Cotta al Caffe')

L.: At first Nicoletta was thinking of using the agar agar that we had, but it was very hard to find a conversion from gelatin to agar. A mistake in this calculation would definitely end in a flop, and in the world of Panna Cotta, not acceptable. So I was thinking where would I find this ingredient gelatin in powdered form, first thought, Barb’s Kitchen, and to my delight it was there.  This place is like a toy store for foodies, all kinds of appliances and ingredients, utensils, tools. Needless to say, I came home with the powdered gelatin as well as some cream of tartar and white chocolate chips. Not bad considering…………

Coffee Panna Cotta (Panna Cotta al Caffe')

N.: As Lidia suggests, I prepared the Coffee Panna Cotta one day ahead, just to give it the time to set properly. That allowed, also, a sigh of relief not having to rush to finish the photos before the sun set.  The ingredients are easily customizable, whether you want to omit the coffee, or Sambuca flavor and add in something different. I decided to stay true to the recipe as the Italians love their “caffè corretto“, that is, a shot of Sambuca in the espresso, even though to say I am not a fan of Sambuca is an understatement. Just say licorice, or fennel, or anise, and see my face pucker. If we’re going to make it again, I will probably use Kahlua or Baileys.

L.: I can attest to this phenomenon of coffee and liquor, as I remember having the espresso and Sambuca or some kind of liquor even when I was small. Maybe not the adult dose, but enough for me to feel it tingle my nose. I loved the way the flavors complimented each other and that hint of licorice which has been a favorite of mine as long as I can remember. So, I am a fan and Nicoletta would rather chew on foil paper than taste Sambuca, but there is just a bit of it and the coffee will balance the flavor nicely. I honestly think it will be delicious!

N.: One day in the fridge and the Coffee Panna Cotta has set nicely. The true test is to turn it upside down, hear it drop and pull the ramekin to reveal… I was actually anxious and scared it would end up like the Pear Chocolate Tart. But following Lidia’s suggestions to dip the bottom of the ramekin in hot water for a few seconds, and loosen the edges with a paring knife, did the job perfectly. Loreto bought some gluten-free cocoa and hazelnut cookies at the Italian Centre Shop that are just right to crumble on top. Another option Lidia suggests is the chocolate covered espresso beans and I’m pretty sure they would be a welcomed flavor.

Coffee Panna Cotta (Panna Cotta al Caffe')

L.: I am really proud of you amore, you did an amazing job! Look how it held its form. That nice sheen on the surface and I love the crumbled cocoa cookies on top. It really adds a nice contrast of silky soft to delectable crumble. I have to go in for a spoonful. WOW, so creamy. I love the way the panna cotta just melts ever slowly on my tongue releasing the red carpet for our stars, the espresso, and Sambuca. This combination together forms a somewhat caramel flavor that lingers delectably on your palate. Before I know, I am staring at an empty dish, and I begin eyeing Nicoletta’s; talk about perfect timing, she is starting to get that face and she surrenders her dessert to me willingly. Lucky for me, this time was an easy one, no stage show, bursts of emotion, and begging, whew!

N.: I have to say, even though I can smell and taste the Sambuca, this Coffee Panna Cotta is a great way to finish a meal, so light and fresh.

Should you have this book on your shelf?

Our last recipe in takes us into a very confident and appreciative yes! This is a great book to have lingering on the kitchen counters. If you like traditional Italian cooking, infused with a bit of American flair, you will truly enjoy this book. From planning a romantic picnic for two to hosting a large formal party, “Lidia’s Celebrate like an Italian” will give you the tools and recipes to wow your guests and bring joy to a festive occasion. The intimate and interactive style, combined with stories, photos, and tidbits, give you a true look and feel of celebration Italian-style!

Buon Appetito!

Song of the day: Time to Say Goodbye (Con Te Partirò) – Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman

Coffe Panna Cotta (Panna Cotta al Caffe')

Coffee Panna Cotta (Panna Cotta al Caffe’)

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 people 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: Italian


Excerpted from Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian. Copyright © 2017 Tutti a Tavola, LLC. Published in Canada by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp powdered gelatin
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp instant espresso granules
  • 1 Tbsp Sambuca or other anise-flavored liquer
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of kosher salt


  1. Heat the milk until just warm to the touch. Sprinkle in the gelatin, and let it dissolve, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and sugar over low heat. Cook, stirring, just until the sugar is dissolved and the cream bubbles around the edges, about 4 minutes.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat, and add the milk mixture, coffee granules, Sambuca, vanilla, and salt.
  4. Stir until the coffee and gelatin are dissolved and the mixture is completely smooth.
  5. Pour into eight 5-ounce ramekins, and chill until set, overnight.
  6. To unmold, dip the bottoms of the ramekins in hot water for a few seconds, and loosen the edges with a pairing knife.
  7. Invert a serving plate over a ramekin and flip, tapping on the bottom to loosen the panna cotta and drop it onto the plate.


The total time does not include the chill time (which can be done overnight).

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Coffee Panna Cotta (Panna Cotta al Caffe')

Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian
Author: Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali
Hardcover: 385 Pages
Publisher: Appetite by Random House
ISBN: 978-0-14-752977-0


Excerpted from Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian. Copyright © 2017 Tutti a Tavola, LLC. Published in Canada by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Disclosure: A review copy of Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian was provided by  Appetite by Random House. All opinions, as usual, are our own.

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  • Avatar
    Reply Nadia November 25, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Nicoletta and Loreto, I love this post! I appreciate your honesty, indeed recipes don’t always turn out how we want them to and it was great that you shared that with your readers! As for this panna cotta, I must admit I’ve never tried making one. For some reason it always seemed intimidating, but I think this may be the one I finally try. Thanks for sharing!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 25, 2017 at 8:55 am

      Thank you, Nadia, there are always mishaps in the kitchen, and from them, usually great things come 🙂 . I loved the texture of this Panna Cotta, but I couldn’t get over the smell and taste of Sambuca, which Loreto loved! Panna cotta is pretty easy, hope you try it. You made panettone, you can definitely make panna cotta 😉 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop November 25, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    What a lovely recipe! I’ve never made a panna cotta, but I think I could do it without any problems if I follow your instructions! It looks so lovely!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 25, 2017 at 7:30 pm

      Panna cotta is such a light, delicious dessert, hope you try it. Would love to hear how you like it! Thank you for your comment, Kathy!

  • Avatar
    Reply maria November 27, 2017 at 9:14 am

    lol…Loretto, your comment on being a Taurus made me crack up… I`m dying over here!!! My husband tells me the same thing and I am a libra… so in my humble opinion, I think it`s a food blogger trait! The panna cotta looks wonderful♥
    You guys did a fantastic job with the recipe choices you made this week and the presentation of the recipes were “numero uno“ They literally came to life!!!
    Your song of the day is one of my favorites ♥ Thank-you! *****

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto November 28, 2017 at 6:22 am

      Hi Maria, so happy that I could make you crack up, and thank you for the wonderful comment. It is true about the blogger trait I think. I can’t let a recipe down and will try aaagain and again to get it right. That was so beautiful what you said about the recipes coming to life, I guess we are on the right track. As far as the music it is a beautiful song full of emotion and visualization. Well thanks a million for checking out this recipe, Nicoletta works so hard at pictures editing and developing recipes and I think her hard wwork pays off, although I am trying to get her to take some time for herself!
      Have a most wonderful week!
      Ciao for now!

  • Avatar
    Reply Kiki Johnson November 27, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Your panna cotta looks fab! I love the addition of sambuca! I am sure it goes incredibly well with the coffee. Will have to check out the other recipes from the cookbook you mentioned! I love Italian food.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 27, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Hi Kiki! Yes Sambuca goes well with coffee, it is one of the most common addition to an espresso (although I don’t like it 😉 ). If you love Italian food, Lidia’s cookbook and her recipes are a must try. Thank you for your comment!

  • Avatar
    Reply chef mimi December 1, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Panna cotto is so good – I can only imagine a coffee version! I love the shape of the dishes you used. Good to know about this cookbook!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 1, 2017 at 8:47 am

      Thank you so much, Chef Mimi! Yes, this coffee panna cotta, spiked with Sambuca has an amazing and unique flavor. We loved to cook from that cookbook!!

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