Bailey’s Irish Cream Panna Cotta with Espresso Caramel

Bailey’s Irish Cream Panna Cotta with Espresso Caramel Sauce

Ever since I started thinking about St. Patrick’s Day recipes I’ve had Bailey’s Irish Cream on my mind. One of the recipes I love to make is panna cotta, an Italian custard made with cream and gelatin. It’s versatile, delicious and oh-so-easy. This recipe for Bailey’s Irish Cream panna cotta with espresso caramel is the very satisfying result of all my brain storming. It’s a little Irish, a lot delicious and sophisticated to boot. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

St. Patrick's Day Dessert Recipes

Bailey’s Irish cream isn’t something we keep in the house; in fact this is the first bottle I ever purchased.  It’s not something I order at a bar either. Still, I have nostalgia for the drink. My first experience with Bailey’s Irish cream was something to remember. I was 14 years old and staying at my grandmother’s home in St. Louis, Missouri for New Year’s Eve. As the clock ticked toward the New Year, she brought out a bottle of Bailey’s Irish cream with a flourish, along with two little shot glasses.


I was sitting in one of those big reclining swivel chairs when she handed me a glass and poured a little “nip” as she called it. The Bailey’s was strong and sweet and I had to shut my eyes and swallow it quickly just like cough medicine. I swiveled in my chair to hide my scrunched-up face as I swallowed it, rotating back into grandmother’s view with an empty glass.  She was impressed with my drinking skills. I just wanted to swallow the stuff. She poured me another, and then another. That was the first time I was tipsy.

Grandmother would love this Bailey’s Irish Cream panna cotta.  It’s smooth and creamy with just a little kick from the liquor. The salted espresso caramel sauce goes perfectly, with flavors reminiscent of tiramisu. This recipe is the perfec–elegant–way to end a St. Patrick’s Day meal. You can pour the panna cotta into little shot glasses, wineglasses or beer glasses to serve. You can harden the custard in a ramekin and turn them out onto plates, with the caramel sauce drizzled on top.

However you presented this dessert, it’s a delicious, boozy way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day—or any old day. One bonus I have to mention: This recipe makes enough of this crazy-yummy espresso caramel for an extra cup to save. Pour it in a little jar and drizzle it on ice cream or cheesecake or just eat it with a spoon.

This recipe wraps up my collection of St. Patrick’s Day recipes for 2014. Please check out my other recipes for some inspiration. I wish you and your family a happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Bailey’s Irish Cream Panna Cotta with Espresso Caramel for St. Patrick's Day #recipe

Bailey’s Irish Cream Panna Cotta with Espresso Caramel

Bailey’s Irish Cream Panna Cotta with Espresso Caramel

Yield: 8 servings + extra sauce


    Panna Cotta:
  • 3 1/2 cups heavy cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 6 tablespoons (90ml) cold water
  • 1/2 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
  • Espresso Caramel Sauce:
  • 8 tablespoons water
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced


Panna cotta:

Heat the cream and sugar in a heavy saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in vanilla extract.

-If you are using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the cream and drop in the vanilla pod. Let infuse for 30 minutes and then remove the bean. Reheat to continue..

-Lightly oil custard ramekins with a neutral tasting oil if you plan to turn out the custard onto plates.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow it to "bloom".

Add the gelatin to the hot cream mixture and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the Bailey's Irish Cream

Pour the custard mixture into glasses or ramekins, dividing evenly. Chill until firm, about four hours.

Espresso Caramel Sauce:

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of water and espresso powder.

In a heavy saucepan over low heat, stir remaining 6 tablespoons of water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil sugar mixture about 8 minutes, swirling the caramel mixture until darker and bubbly.

Remove saucepan from heat. Add cream, butter, salt and coffee mixture to the caramel.

Return to heat. Boil the mixture, whisking constantly until smooth and thickened. Pour over chilled panna cotta and save remaining sauce in a canning jar for up to 2 weeks.

Panna Cotta Recipe adapted from Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy Witts. Espresso Caramel recipe adapted from Coffee-Caramel Sauce from Bon Appetite 1998


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