I talked about Irish coffee a while back, when we made the muffins inspired by the drink. Since then we acquired some Irish coffee glasses and I was mulling over what I could make that could be presented in them, they have such a wonderful distinctive shape it would be a shame to only drink out of them!
This eventually led me to panna cotta. Panna Cotta literally means (so I’m told) “cooked cream.” It is an Italian gelatinised cream dessert, not, as dictionary.com put it, “an egg custard.” There is no egg! Just lots of cream, gelatin and a little sugar.
This means it’s versatile. You can flavour it any way you like. When you heat the cream up you can infuse it with vanilla, citrus, any spices you like. If you can imagine it, there’s a way!
I could have made the Irish coffee flavour all one layer and just put whipped cream on top.. about the only time whipped cream is allowable on an Irish coffee! But I like the look of an Irish coffee, the distinct line between the cream and the coffee. So I cheated a little bit.
I did one large coffee layer, it filled about two thirds of the glass. I let that set and then made a layer with Irish cream, I skipped the whisky today. Then once that set I lightly whipped some chantilly cream and sprinkled the top with espresso powder.
Each layer doesn’t take long to make, you’ll spend longer waiting for it to set. Though even that doesn’t take too long, a couple of hours if you keep your fridge nice and cold. To make, I sprinkled the gelatin over the cream, once it was ready I gently warmed the cream to dissolve the gelatin. Do not let it boil, too hot and the gelatin will denature. Mine started dissolving at 110F so I turned off the heat and whisked it until it was all dissolved. I have heard that above 130F is bad for gelatin.
Then the first time round I whisked in some instant coffee.. Yes, instant coffee is a crime against coffee. But it dissolves in the warm cream, if I infused with actual coffee I would need to strain it out. Laziness wins! The second time around Baileys got added – to taste!
Overall it was a good dessert. Too big though. If only they made mini Irish coffee glasses! I think the coffee layer was too bitter, but it was nice and strong so maybe just a little extra sugar added to that layer next time. The Baileys layer and the cream were good though and eating all three layers together the bitterness of the coffee was balanced out a little, so it doesn’t have too far to go. Size was definitely the big problem.