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Espresso con Panna is Italian for “espresso with cream.” Traditionally, espresso con panna uses heavy cream whipped by hand on top of a shot of espresso to make a thick, creamy layer on top of the espresso. You get a delicious rush of coffee when you break through the cream layer that is sweet and smooth and a real treat.
In this article, we’re going to show you how to make espresso con panna the authentic way and give you a few simpler options if you don’t feel like whipping cream yourself or if you don’t have an espresso machine. Espresso aficionados might cringe at these crude alternatives, but we like them since they can give people a sense of what makes espresso con panna so great without nearly as much equipment or effort.
How to Make Authentic Espresso con Panna:
Let’s start with the classic. To make espresso con panna the traditional way, you’ll need a few things.
- Espresso machine
- Electric mixer (or hand mixer if you want a workout)
1.Whip the cream.
We know using an electric mixer isn’t the most traditional way to make espresso con panna, but we think it’s fair to tweak the rules a little bit. An electric mixer makes this so much easier, and there isn’t any difference in the result compared to using a hand mixer. There is an art to getting the right consistency, and you’ll get better the more you practice. A good stopping point is when you see the cream starting to form well-defined peaks.
2.Pull a shot of espresso.
The heart of espresso con panna is the espresso. If you don’t have an excellent shot, you’re not going to have a great experience. All of the usual espresso details matter here, with tamping and dosing having the largest effects.
3.Top the espresso with cream.
Be gentle with this step. You want the whipped cream to sit on top of the shot rather than be submerged and mixed into the espresso.
A slightly easier version
If you don’t feel like whipping heavy cream yourself, we don’t blame you. You can absolutely use whipped cream from a can, but it won’t give you the same experience. Whipped cream in a can is typically lighter than heavy cream whipped by hand, so when you use canned whipped cream in espresso con panna, you lose the sealing effect that heavy cream has.
Part of the joy of espresso con panna comes from the separation of the coffee and the whipped cream, which is lost when you use a pre-whipped cream. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it, but you should be aware of the concession you’re making. Still, since it’s so much easier to use canned whipped cream, it might be a good first exposure to espresso con panna if you want to test it out.
Coffee con Panna
This is where espresso lovers will really start wrinkling their noses. What if you don’t have an espresso machine? You can still make an approximation of espresso con panna with regular coffee. The best alternative is to use a Moka pot since they make strong, concentrated coffee that is a reasonable facsimile of espresso. If you also don’t have a Moka pot, you can use whatever brewing method you like, but you’ll be even further from traditional espresso con panna.
1.Whip the cream.
You can use canned whipped cream if you want to, but since you’re already making a big change, we recommend going all in and whipping the cream yourself. It still won’t be 100% traditional espresso con panna, but it will give you a better sense of what it’s like if you whip the cream yourself.