I admit I had been skeptical about store-bought eggnog until I tried organic whole fat all-natural one. It was pretty good. And so I thought of a super-quick and easy dessert utilizing some leftovers. I topped the panna cotta with a very thin (2-3 mm) layer of white chocolate-espresso ganache (they go together nicely) and served with miniature barely sweet espresso cookies filled with the same ganache.

I want to wish everyone a Merry and Relaxing (as/if possible) Christmas! It’s always so hectic right before the holidays.

Serves 12

For the panna cotta:

  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 2 tsp powdered gelatin
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp fine granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Seeds from ½ vanilla bean

For the ganache:

  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp very coarsely ground French roast coffee beans
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 6 oz white chocolate, very finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp (45 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp Kahlua

For the espresso cookies:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup confectioner’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp Kahlua
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp finely ground French roast coffee beans

Make the panna cotta:

Pour the rum into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let soften for a couple of minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the whipping cream, sugar, nutmeg, salt, and the vanilla seeds. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot. Remove from the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin; whisk until the gelatin dissolves. Set aside.

Pour the eggnog in a large liquid-measuring cup (a spout will make it easier to pour later). Whisk a little bit of the eggnog into the hot cream-gelatin mixture, then whisk all the cream-gelatin into the eggnog. Divide the mixture equally between 12 4-oz bowls, glasses or ramekins. Once cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Make the ganache:

In a small saucepan combine the whipping cream and the coffee. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let infuse for 20 minutes. Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth into a clean saucepan, add the corn syrup and reheat to a boiling point again.

Meanwhile, pour about 1-inch of water into a frying pan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and wait for a couple of minutes to cool. Place the chocolate into a medium bowl, then place the bowl with the chocolate into the hot water, just for a moment, to premelt the chocolate and buffer a shock of adding the hot liquid later. Remove the bowl from the water bath, add the butter.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for two minutes without disturbing. When the time is over, gently stir the mixture with a rubber spatula in circular motion (from the center to the sides of the bowl) until the chocolate melts and the ganache is smooth. Gently stir in the liqueur. Cool until slightly warm and pour about a scant tablespoon over each panna cotta. You might need to rewarm the ganache gently in warm water bath as you go. Let cool the remaining ganache to room temperature and thicken. Place into a small plastic bag, snip a corner and fill the cookies.

Make the cookies:

Sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.

Beat the butter and the sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in the Kahlua and vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Mix in the ground coffee. Finish mixing with your hands. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

When ready to bake, center the oven rack. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.

Measure out half-teaspoon portions of the dough and roll into tiny balls. Place the balls onto the prepared baking sheet about 1-inch apart. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before baking. Bake the cookies for 10 to12 minutes, until they appear dull and set, but not coloured (only the bottoms should be golden brown). Cool on the baking sheet on a rack. Once cooled, filled with the ganache – pipe a small mound (garbanzo bean-size) onto every other cookie and sandwich them together. Refrigerate until the ganache set. Store the cookies in an air-tight container in a cool place up to a week.