Recipe: Panna Cotta Paired with an Espresso Martini

Discover a delicious pairing to end off a meal.

panna cotta | House and Leisure

When it comes to desserts, you can't go wrong with panna cotta. It is sophisticated, fun and you can pair it with whatever you please. It's also a very accommodating dessert as you can adjust the recipe to fit many dietary requirements and it is naturally gluten-free. If you're uncertain of what to pair your next panna cotta with, look no further than this recipe for panna cotta paired with a Tia Maria espresso martini. 

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For the Panna Cotta 


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3t powdered gelatin
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups light or heavy cream
  • 1t pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt


Lightly grease six 200g ramekins with cooking spray, then use a paper towel to wipe out most of the oil, leaving only a light residue. Pour the milk into a large saucepan and sprinkle the powdered gelatin evenly over the top. Let the gelatin soften for 5 minutes or until the surface of the milk is wrinkled and the gelatin grains look wet and slightly dissolved. 

Set the saucepan over a low heat and gently warm the milk, stirring or whisking frequently. The milk should never boil or simmer; if you see steam, remove the pan from the stove and let it cool down. The milk should get hot, but not so hot that you can't leave your finger in the pan for a few seconds. The gelatin will dissolve quickly as the milk warms; it melts at body temperature so this step should go quickly. After about 2 minutes of warming, rub a bit of the milk between your fingers to make sure it's smooth. Alternatively dip a spoon in the milk and check the back for distinct grains of gelatin.

Stir the sugar into the milk and continue warming until it dissolves. It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes to dissolve both the gelatin and the sugar. Again, never let the mixture boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the cream, vanilla and salt. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared ramekins and put in the fridge to chill. If serving straight from the ramekins, chill for 1 to 2 hours. If you want to remove the panna cotta from the ramekins and serve on their own, chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

To remove the panna cotta from the ramekins, fill a large bowl halfway with warm to hot water. Wipe a dessert plate with a damp paper towel (a damp plate lets you reposition the panna cotta more easily if it doesn't fall in the right spot). Run a thin knife carefully around the sides of the ramekin. Don't slide the knife all the way into the ramekin; just release the top edge of the panna cotta from the edge of the ramekin. Dip the ramekin in the warm water up to its rim, and hold it there for about 3 seconds. Invert the ramekin over the plate and shake gently to help the panna cotta fall out, or press gently on one side to help nudge it out. It should fall out on the plate easily. (If it does not, return to the warm water bath in increments of 2 seconds.) Reposition on the plate if desired.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate, lightly covered, for up to 5 days. The gelatin gets stronger as it sits, so the panna cotta will be a bit rubbery by days 4 or 5, but you can mitigate this by letting it sit at room temperature for about half an hour before serving.

To Serve

  • Garnish with fresh fruit
  • Drizzle with chocolate or caramel sauce
  • Warm some raspberry or strawberry jam and drizzle over the top
  • Sprinkle chopped nuts or grated chocolate on top
  • Dollop a spoonful of store-bought lemon curd onto the pudding

For the Tia Maria Espresso Martini

panna cotta | House and Leisure


  • Ice
  • 25ml Tia Maria
  • 25ml vodka
  • Double or single shot of espresso
  • 5ml sugar syrup 
  • Coffee beans, for garnish


Fill a martini glass with ice and set aside to chill. Pour the Tia Maria, vodka, espresso and sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker. Fill the rest of the shaker with ice. Shake the ingredients together. Empty the martini glass of ice. Pour in the contents of the shaker using a strainer and sieve into the glass. Finish with coffee beans. 

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