Caramel Macchiato Panna Cotta

A restaurant-quality dessert that’s no-bake and has all the flavors of your favorite coffeehouse drink?  Why not! This caramel macchiato panna cotta has a creamy, cool coffee custard that’s topped with a homemade chocolate, caramel sauce.  And since there isn’t any baking involved, it’s the perfect summertime dessert.

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Plates of caramel macchiato panna cotta garnished with homemade chocolate salted caramel sauce and garnished with espresso beans.

Panna Cotta is a sweet finish to a beautiful Italian meal.  I like to serve caramel macchiato panna cotta as dessert when I’m making Classic Caprese Salad, Chicken Francese, oven asparagus risotto, and Spicy Italian-style Broccoli Rabe.  

What Is Panna Cotta?

Panna cotta, Italian for ‘cooked cream’ is a classic Italian dessert of sweetened cream that is thickened with gelatin and molded.  It can be flavored with vanilla, almond, various fruits, or coffee.

A perfect panna cotta is cool, silky smooth, and firm like a custard.  It’s as easy as making Jell-o, but far less ‘jiggly’.

Caramel Macchiato Panna Cotta

This panna cotta recipe uses coffee as the main flavor and is incredibly decadent and luscious as is.  But, we’re going to top the panna cotta with a homemade chocolate, salted caramel sauce.  

The chocolate and caramel enhance the flavor of the coffee, while the hint of salt in the sauce offsets the subtle sweetness of the panna cotta.  And it’s a no-bake dessert.  Did I mention that?

Plates of caramel macchiato panna cotta garnished with homemade chocolate salted caramel sauce and garnished with espresso beans.

Ingredients Needed

The ingredients used in this dessert are pretty simple and probably already in your pantry and refrigerator.

  • Chocolate chips – I used semi-sweet Ghiradelli.  You could use milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or a mixture of the two.  It depends on how sweet you want your sauce to be.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Sea salt
  • Heavy cream and whole milk
  • Vanilla
  • Unflavored powdered gelatin packets
  • Instant espresso powder
  • Plain or chocolate-covered espresso beans as a garnish

How To Make The Salted Caramel Chocolate Sauce

Start by melting the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.

Next, heat water, sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves.  Then cook, while stirring, until the mixture turns a rich caramel color.

Stir in the heavy cream, vanilla, and finally the chocolate.

Spoon this luscious mixture into a jar and allow it to cool.

Make The Panna Cotta

The first step is to stir the gelatin, espresso powder, and some of the milk together.  This is called ‘blooming’ gelatin.

Next, you will heat the remaining milk, sugar, and salt together.  Then stir in the gelatin mixture.

Strain the mixture into a large bowl.

Whip the heavy cream until it’s thickened, but not as thick as whipped cream.

Fold it into the coffee mixture.

Spoon the mix into ramekins and chill.

When ready to serve, you can either unmold the panna cotta onto a serving plate and spoon the chocolate salted caramel sauce over the top and garnish with espresso beans or a bit of whipped cream.

Alternatively, you can spoon the sauce over the top of the panna cotta right in the ramekin.

Plates of caramel macchiato panna cotta garnished with homemade chocolate salted caramel sauce and garnished with espresso beans.

More No-Bake Desserts

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Plates of caramel macchiato panna cotta garnished with homemade chocolate salted caramel sauce and garnished with espresso beans.



An Italian classic, this caramel macchiato panna cotta has your favorite coffee drink flavors in an easy and elegant dessert.



For the salted chocolate caramel sauce:

  • 1 cup good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped (I used Ghiradelli)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the panna cotta:

  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream, divided
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Plain or chocolate-covered espresso beans as a garnish


Make the caramel.

Place the chocolate chips into a glass bowl.

Microwave the chocolate on medium power in 30-second intervals, stirring after each one, until melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stir the water, sugar, and salt together until combined.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved.

Reduce the heat to medium and without stirring, allow the mixture to take on a deep caramel color.

Occasionally swirl the pan around gently to ensure that the mixture caramelizes evenly.  This will take 20 minutes or more, depending on your stove.  Don’t increase the heat or the mixture will scorch.

Remove the pot from the heat and gradually pour in the heavy cream, whisking constantly.  The mixture will bubble up, so be careful not to get burned or allow it to bubble over the side of the pot.

Stir in the vanilla.

Place the pot back over medium-low heat.

Stir in the chocolate until completely combined and the mixture is silky smooth.

Carefully pour the sauce into a heat-proof jar and allow it to cool completely before using.  Don’t place the lid on the jar until AFTER the sauce cools.  You don’t want condensation to form and drip on the top of your sauce.

The sauce will thicken as it cools and get very thick when refrigerated.

Make the panna cotta.

In a small bowl, stir together ¼ cup of the milk, the gelatin, and the instant espresso until combined. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the remaining ¾ cup whole milk, granulated sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is steaming, but not boiling.

Stir in the gelatin mixture and continue to warm the mixture for another half a minute, not allowing it to come to a boil.

Set the mixture aside to cool for 30 minutes.

Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl.  Pour the gelatin mixture into the strainer and use the back of a spoon to push it through the strainer.

Whisk in ½ cup of heavy cream. Set aside.

In a medium glass or copper bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup of heavy cream and vanilla.  Whisk the mixture until very soft peaks form.

Fold the whipped cream into the coffee/gelatin mixture.

Spoon the mixture into four molds or ramekins and chill for 3-4 hours.  If you’re using silicone molds, they are easier to unmold if you freeze the panna cotta first.  Unmold the dessert onto a serving dish and allow it to thaw on the counter for about 15 minutes.

Spoon the cooled chocolate caramel over the panna cotta and garnish with espresso beans.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Chilling time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: caramel macchiato panna cotta, panna cotta, espresso, homemade chocolate salted caramel sauce, Italian desserts, coffee desserts

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