Chocolate Chile Panna Cotta

february 8, 2021

chocolate chile panna cotta

The default easy dessert is usually ice cream. You purchase, you scoop, you please your guests and your own palate. There are so many options and so many flavors you can’t go wrong . Making a restaurant-level dessert like this Chocolate Chile Panna Cotta is a breeze and looks like you’ve been very busy in the kitchen. Because of Valentine’s Day, February is the month for chocolate, am I right? Let’s get to this simple recipe.

Put simple, panna cotta is fancy pudding. The dairy component can be cream, buttermilk, milk or non-dairy like almond milk. In this case, I use greek yogurt for creaminess and a little gelatin for setting up into a slightly thickened version of your favorite childhood dessert—chocolate pudding—then jazz it up with ancho chile powder. You may be tempted to use regular chile powder, but this has added cumin and garlic and does not give the pure chile vibe we want. Early testers told me I was a little too timid with the chile, so here is the final version which gives a modest mouth explosion of flavor without the lingering heat of hot chiles.

chocolate chile panna cotta

adding the optional garnishes makes it more like a restaurant-worthy sweet treat

Chocolate is My Friend

There have been many chocolate desserts in this published collection of recipes, from the sweet like Chocolate Cherry Panna Cotta to the not-too-sweet like Salted Chocolate Pecan Tart. All chocolate dishes are good, in my humble opinion. Daily consumption is advised for optimal health.

ingredients for chocolate chile panna cotta

use darkest cocoa powder (dutched) and ancho chile powder for unique flavor

This recipe involves minimal work for maximum impact. Soften the gelatin, heat the chocolate mix, add yogurt and let it set in pretty dishes. If you want to go even easier, use canned whipped cream without additives. It’s super easy to make your own and less messy if you use the beaker attachment of your immersion blender. A light sprinkle of ancho chile powder at serving time sends a reminder this is not your grandmother’s chocolate pudding.

closeup of chocolate chile panna cotta

Chocolate Chile Panna Cotta

recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company

makes six servings


1 ½ teaspoons powdered gelatin
⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup extra dark cocoa powder (dutch process)
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder*
½ cup milk
2 ¾ cup greek yogurt, preferably whole milk
optional garnishes : whipped cream, more ancho chile powder, dark chocolate curls
* regular chile powder often has cumin and garlic – avoid


  1. Add gelatin to 2 tablespoons tap water in small bowl, give a stir, then let sit to dissolve.
  2. In heavy 2 quart saucepan, whisk together cocoa powder, brown sugar and 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder.
  3. Whisk in milk, then over medium heat stir mixture gently just until sugar melts and you see a little steam coming from the pot (do not let come to simmer).
  4. Off heat, whisk in softened gelatin, a little at a time, until it is all dissolved.
  5. Whisk in the greek yogurt, about one half cup at a time, until mixture is all blended, using spatula to scrape sides of pot as needed..
  6. Pour dessert into 6 small cups or ramekins and chill at least 4 hours until fully set.
  7. Garnish with whipped cream and a light sprinkle of ancho chile powder if desired.
  8. To make your own whipped cream, add ½-¾ cup heavy cream to beaker attachment of immersion blender, add 1 tablespoon powdered sugar for stability, then use whisk attachment, with up and down motion, to beat just until firm peaks appear; may be made several hours ahead.
  9. To make dark chocolate curls, use vegetable peeler to shave dark chocolate bar (soften in microwave in 5 second bursts if too firm).
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