Espresso Panna Cotta with Italian Meringue Brulé Clouds

Espresso Panna Cotta, Italian Meringue BruléP I N this to pinterest

We were totally

from my daughter’s birthday
and the
Cinnamon Streusel Pumpkin Coffee Cake

I racked my brains
for something “else” that would be
suitable but unique

for a special birthday…

my son, Phil’s, 19th to be exact!

When he worked at Mercato West, our favorite restaurant,
he worked hard to perfect the perfect cappuccino and espresso.

Since we were both too sick to go out for a special family dinner..

I challenged myself to recreate a
dessert from their menu to enjoy in the comfort of

our home

P I N this to pinterestCappuccino!!


Espresso Panna Cotta

topped with

Clouds of Toasted Meringue Brulé

P I N this to pinterestFor such a simple, make head recipe,
they turned out so pretty and, I thought, a close match in taste.

I’d recommend sharing a cup between two..
{ we found it quite rich }

Better still… head to Mercato West for superb food,
attentive and friendly staff, and have a grappa to finish!
Tell them I sent ya’, it may not get you anything, but tell them anyway;)

I adapted Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe because
I thought real espresso would have a more vibrant flavor,

{ Giada’s would be easier because it just uses espresso powder }

I also wanted little bits of espresso suspended like vanilla beans for effect..
P I N this to pinterestso I popped in an espresso sachet as well.

Note: **I’d make these at least one to two days ahead so they can fully set,
perhaps even add 1/2 tsp more gelatin powder.

P I N this to pinterest

Espresso Panna Cotta with Italian Meringue Brulé Clouds
  • Panna Cotta
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 ounce shots of espresso
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 3 tbsp freshly ground espresso
  • small square cheesecloth
  • string
  • 4 small coffee cups, mugs or ramekins
  • meringue powder
  • or
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • kitchen cooking torch
  1. Spoon 3 tbsp freshly ground espresso onto the square piece of cheesecloth. Tie securely with string to make a sachet.
  2. Pour the milk into a medium sized saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over top and allow it to sit for 5 minutes to allow the gelatin to soften. Turn to medium heat and cook, stirring for 2 minutes until the gelatin dissolves. Do not allow the milk to boil.
  3. Add the cream, espresso shots, sugar and pinch of salt. Pop in the sachet. Stir over low heat for 3 more minutes until all of the sugar is dissolved. Gently press the espresso sachet to allow some fine grounds to filter through. As the milk mixture heats, the sachet can continue to be pressed to allow more color and espresso flavor to be released.
  4. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly. Place four coffee cups, mugs or individual bowls on a silpat lined cookie sheet so they don’t move. Ladle the creamy mixture into each cup, dividing equally.
  5. Move the tray to the fridge and allow to cool, stirring every 20 minutes for the first hour only. After that, cover (I didn’t even cover mine) and let set for a minimum of six hours (I prefered the texture after a day). It can be kept up to two days in the fridge.
  6. A while before serving, mix up the meringue according to the directions on your powdered meringue container. If making meringue from scratch, put egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar into a very clean mixing bowl over a simmering pot of water. Using a hand held mixer, beat on low at first, then slowly bring to high speed. Beat until the meringue reaches 140°F, remove from heat and continue to beat until the meringue has stiff peaks.
  7. Heap the meringue on top of the Espresso Panna Cotta cups, swirling for effect. Refrigerate and just before serving, lightly brown the meringue using a hand-held kitchen cooking torch.



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  • Yum! HAPPY BIRTHDAY to both of them!ReplyCancel

    • Thanks, Susie.. I’m done.. 1 Thanksgiving 5 birthdays, 1 Hallowe’en.. and now Remembrance Day is next.. then Christmas, aaaahhh!ReplyCancel

      • Mine is just starting! 4 November birthdays from the 11tth to the 20 and 1 December birthday right right after Christmas! Thanksgiving in between! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Stunning! I wanted a photo of it on a spoon! Enjoying a lovely dessert at home is the BEST way to have any dessert! Especially in your jammies!

  • What a lovely dessert for the occasion. I hope everyone is better soon.ReplyCancel

  • I will have to get that kitchen torch ONLY to make this amazing looking meringue-pannacotta! I already know I would like to do this using Italian meringue… happy birthday!ReplyCancel

  • Totally loving the idea of these for an afternoon dessert with the girls! I love panna cotta, truth be known I love anything with fresh cream, so this is right up my alley! They look very classy too!ReplyCancel

  • Smidge, when you rack your brain, genius happens! (case in point!) This goes on my list for the holidays. Love it! (and happy birthday Phil – you lucky lad!) Beautiful photos too Barb – the first one especially grabs me (and won’t let go!) xoxReplyCancel

  • Happy Birthday to Handsome Phil! (you should definitely tell him I said so, at 19 compliments don’t spoil that much, right? 😉

    You know, I have that recipe from Giada’s bookmarked to “try soon” – you outdid her by a huge shot, if she sees your post she might consider quitting TV and giving you her spot… seriously

    I like the modifications you made, and I intend to surprise my Phil with it sometime soon…. 😉ReplyCancel

    • I will tell him for sure.. everyone could use a compliment a day I think! Sally.. you’re just an amazing cook/baker/writer!! I hope you try this recipe, I couldn’t believe how easy panna cotta is to make.. xxReplyCancel

  • Yet another reason to buy a kitchen torch. These sound amazing!ReplyCancel

  • I love your blog – the pictures are always so pretty… Thanks so much for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • That looks fantastic. I’ve never heard of meringue powder. I make meringues every week as my wife is an addict! The other thing is that I always hear of people using cream of tartare – I’ve never owned any as I don’t know what it is or what it does. I normally add a pinch of salt to the egg whites, and add 32gms of sugar for each egg white. I have to try your cappucino panna cotta defiinitely.ReplyCancel

    • Well, the jury’s out on the meringue powder for me, it didn’t taste nearly as good. But in this situation, if you’re not in the mood of “tempering” the egg white for food safety, it’s a lot faster and wouldn’t spoil as quick, I don’t think. I just read up on cream of tartar when I was making these.. it’s a substitute for the wonderful properties of a copper pot. Now I know what to wish for at Christmas time!! I think the copper does something to the molecules?? But you probably know better than I:DReplyCancel

  • This looks absolutely sinful – thanks so much for sharing! Have a Great Day:)ReplyCancel

  • looks like the perfect birthday treat! happy birthday to your son and hope you two are feeling better!ReplyCancel

  • Oh my, I’m in love just with the thought of this dessert 🙂ReplyCancel

  • uuughhh YES that looks amazing!!! wish i had an espresso machine..ReplyCancel

  • You are an artist…ReplyCancel

  • Cappuccino is one of those things I treat myself with, kind of like comfort food, so this just speaks to me 🙂 Hubby’s got me working hard cleaning out some things for Goodwill today, but I will be making this as a treat when we’re done. It’s beautiful, Barb! Perfect in every way for me! Thank you for this. xoxoReplyCancel

  • I think Phil would have been more than happy with this, what a gorgeous dessert 🙂

    Choc Chip UruReplyCancel

  • These clouds are so fluffy I want to dive in. Great photography!ReplyCancel

  • You come up with the best ideas. And the presentation is gorgeous. What a wonderful idea for a birthday dinner at home. Happy 19th to Phil. Your children’s birthdays are so close together! xxReplyCancel

  • Maybe you could try the torch out on creme caramel – although maybe you dont use a torch on that im not sureReplyCancel

  • Oh my goodness. This is to die for. It will be someone’s birthday this weekend, because I must make this.ReplyCancel

  • Those look really rather special, Barbara!ReplyCancel

  • Happy 19th to Phil!
    Glad to read you’re both doing better, Barb, but you sure didn’t let a little virus stomp your creativity. These desserts are beautiful. Panna cotta is a wonderful dessert, no doubt, but to top it off with meringue and then torch it? Very nice! And I haven’t even mentioned the incredible presentation. Between this panna cotta and your cakes, Mercato West should give you a job as their Pastry Chef. You really are talented, Barb, and and it’s always a treat to come here and see what you’ve cooked up. Today was no exception.ReplyCancel

    • I’ve thought about Pastry Chef school, you know, but then I’d have to stop focusing on making cheese, pasta, braising meats.. what fun would there be in that 😀 Thanks so much, as always, your complimentary words make my day!ReplyCancel

  • You are amazing creative artist into the words and in the kitchen and in the photography! Happy Birthday to your son. Everything seems so beautiful and so delicious, so delicious… Thank you, love, niaReplyCancel

  • Works of art, Smidge!ReplyCancel

  • Ohh what a classic way to celebrate another year of life!! Coffee is the elixir OF life after all! Happy Birthday to your son!ReplyCancel

  • What a clever and inventive combination -these sound gorgeous – I am sure I could eat a whole one myself. I hope everyone is feeling better.ReplyCancel

    • Well.. I definitely tried.. and made it just past half way, and finished the rest the next day, lol! We’re both lots better now thanks! Hopefully that’s over with for the year!ReplyCancel

  • amazing!!!
    I wont one cup….. pleaseReplyCancel

  • I so wish I were having this for dessert tonight. I love coffee desserts. Alas, there is no gelatin in the house…ReplyCancel

    • I’m so impressed that you’re still sticking with your plan. How many more days are left??ReplyCancel

      • Oh, I don’t know. “Work With What You Got” was supposed to be for the month of October. It is November now but I am still short on income. I’ll know what I’m doing by Sunday’s post.ReplyCancel

  • Hey Smidge, love the idea of combining a classic panda cotta with the toasty brûlée topping and ‘meringue foam!’ Need a few make ahead & chill recipes coming up for Summer here so much appreciated! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Barbara that looks like the perfect dessert. Love the sounds of this! Anything that involves coffee and meringue is good, involving the two together? Divine.ReplyCancel

  • Oh Smidge, this is just heavenly!
    🙂 Mandy xoReplyCancel

  • That is an amazing interpreation of a wonderful dessert – and you were feeling ill too. Do hope you are all better, especially after all the celebrations you have been cooking for!ReplyCancel

  • gastrogardener

    What a wonderful dessert. The inspiration and interpretation are inspired! Happy Birthday to the son, and hope everyone feels better soon!ReplyCancel

  • Looks and sounds divine.ReplyCancel

  • I’m really sorry you weren’t well enough to go out, but I think I’d rather sit at your house and enjoy your fabulous cooking in the comfort of a warm home! You have such a wide range of talents, Smidge! I am sure the restaurant couldn’t offer anything more beautiful and tasty! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Ahhh.. what they offer is a night off 😀 And variety and being waited on with a smile is something I could get used to:D xxReplyCancel

      • Of course, you are so right! I was thinking of myself as your guest! LOL! Not the cook! 🙂 Oh so sorry…hahaha! You probably get that reaction frequently being such a gracious host. I hope you get a little “time off” this weekend, Smidge!ReplyCancel

  • I will cook all day and serve wine all night if you will make this in return! I am a fiend for creamy, meringuey, lush desserts….I want this for breakfast lunch and dinner.ReplyCancel

  • You are just far too young to have a 19 year old. This dessert looks so incredibly beautiful, I just LOVE it. I will definitely have to steal your idea for sure. We have Mercato in Toronto, I wonder if it’s the same restaurant group.ReplyCancel

    • Well, now, you’ve just made my day. Yes, I had my first child at 16, lol.. just kidding. It is a great idea for a make ahead dessert for sure. I don’t know if they are connected.. somehow I don’t think so or we would have heard about it? Is it a great restaurant?? I might just google it to see!ReplyCancel

      • It’s lovely. I believe there are three in Toronto, we like the one on Bay Street. I’ve been to the one at the Eaton Centre and don’t care for it. I haven’t been to the third one.ReplyCancel

      • Just Googled them and our’s have two T’s in their name. ReplyCancel

  • What beautiful photos! And what a perfect little treat for a special occasion! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • So pretty…and looks so delicious! Very creative! Yum!ReplyCancel

  • That is just gorgeous looking meringue!ReplyCancel

  • What a great substitute for cake! This is a gorgeous dessert and what flavors! I love a good panna cotta and the meringue on top looks delicious!ReplyCancel

  • What a fabulous dessert!ReplyCancel

  • Another incredibly beautiful and tasty sounding dessert. Happy Birthday to your son and your daughter!ReplyCancel

  • that looks gorgeous! i think i have some espresso powder that needs to be made into this, for sure.ReplyCancel

  • Wow, even when you are ill you make gorgeous and delicious goodies! Your children are very lucky to have such an amazing mom. Hope everyone is feeling better now! Holiday season’s a comin’!ReplyCancel

  • What heavenly little clouds! I wish you ran a restaurant on my block. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Very nice dessert! Well done, I have to do some of this soonReplyCancel

  • Sometimes coming here is like entering a dream land. A very pretty, tasty dream land.ReplyCancel

  • I have already said happy birthday to your daughter, so Happy Birthday Phil!
    This is something that suits me … have done 1000 and more 1000 panna cotta in my days, but never anything like this .. under a “roof”. This I have to try. Barbara, your recipe says tartar – is that the same as in tartar sauce ???? Doesn’t make any sense to me, but it doesn’t have to do that to work. Or is it something of your weird and wonderful products you have over there. Beautiful and so indulgent photos.ReplyCancel

    • Oh, dear.. Nooo, not tartar sauce.. It’s a powder here sold in a tiny box called cream of tartar, but if you don’t have it, you can make the meringues without:DReplyCancel

      • I knew it was something wired and wonderful again. I have heard about powder that keep the meringues stiff.
        Thanks for coming back to me. ReplyCancel

  • I hope everyone is feeling better! Happy birthday to your daughter and son!!! I love how you browned the edges of the meringue. It looks perfect!ReplyCancel

  • Beautiful photos, Smidge, and what a beautiful recipe! My four-year-old daughter is sitting on my lap and said, “Oh, yummy!” They sure do look it (!), though I think she’ll need to refrain from the espresso for a few years. Good health to all. xoxoReplyCancel

  • I love the presentation! How adorable and absolutely delicious.ReplyCancel

  • That is about as divine of a “cap” that I have ever seen Barbara. Love it!ReplyCancel

  • […] kinda early. It’s my own fault but at that precise moment, I had just finished the gorgeous Cappuccino Panna Cotta I saw yesterday at Smidges, the bread was rising and the Moroccan Braised Beefwas already made and […]ReplyCancel

  • Happy belated birthday to your son and your daughter
    They are indeed lucky to have such a wonderfully talented mumReplyCancel

  • Happy belated birthdays! What a gorgeous meringue. I hesitate to use the torch, but your dish inspires me.
    It is funny because I always ask my son (20) to help with fire if he is home!
    I have renamed your dessert to “Heaven in a bowl”.ReplyCancel

  • These are GORGEOUS! What a great discovery.
    And I have passed in my hand held kitchen torch for a real one (it’s small but I could solder pipes with it!)
    I hope you have your body back… and have taken time to rest. xReplyCancel

  • It’s about time to use that torch I had for so long now!! Lovely dessert!ReplyCancel

  • Oh my how heavenly! It looks so fluffy, the name fits perfectly! Gorgeous picture, you’re such an inspiration 🙂ReplyCancel

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