Cocoa Nib Panna Cotta with a Lavender & Blackberry-Cassis Coulis


This dreamy, delicately set dessert is flavored with an infusion of roasted cocoa beans. The taste is exotic, the texture positively sensual. But you must measure the gelatin like a miser…or risk turning an exquisite confection into a dish of Jell-O.

  • ½ cup cocoa nibs, coarsely chopped into smaller bits
  • 3 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • 2 ¾ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh blackberries or blackberry puree, well sugared

Special equipment

  • Instant-read thermometer
  • 6 wide margarita glasses (or six 6-ounce ramekins)

Bring the nibs and cream to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold milk in a small bowl and set aside to let the gelatin soften.

Strain the cream, pressing lightly on the nibs to extract all the liquid. Discard the nibs. Return the cream to the saucepan, add the sugar and bring to a simmer. Pour into a heatproof bowl. Gradually stir in the milk, then the salt. Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice cubes and water and stir frequently until the mixture thickens and registers 50 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

Divide evenly among the margarita glasses (or ramekins). Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

Serve the panna cotta in their glasses or ramekins. Or, wrap each ramekin in a hot wrung-out wet towel and untold onto desert plates. Accompany with well-sugared berries or served blackberry cassis coulis (recipe follows).

  • 2 pints fresh blackberries or
  • 1 pound thawed frozen blackberries, with juices reserved
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lavender buds
  • 6 – 8 tablespoons Creme de Cassis
  • A squeeze of lemon juice (more if needed)

In a saucepan combine all of the ingredients except the Cassis. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 8-10 minutes. Stir often to avoid scorching.

Add Cassis once ingredients cooked.

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Set aside to cool.

Store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for as long as 2 weeks or freeze.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s