Chai Latte Panna Cotta


So the other day I went to Starbucks and, not wanting to add to my already well-established coffee shakes (caffeine overload) but wanting something to sip on, I decided to take the path less traveled (for me, anyway) and get a chai latte.

On this particular day, I didn’t like it. She might have made it too strong, or maybe it was just that it wasn’t coffee. It’s not that I don’t like chai – I do – but for some reason I took a couple sips and just wasn’t that into it. As cheap as I am, I didn’t want to waste a $4 chai latte, either. Since it’s not mid-winter and there wasn’t the option to leave it in the cup holder of the car overnight and scrape it with a fork to make a granita (done that), I took it home and stuck it in the fridge. This morning, I found it. And made panna cotta.

Quick aside: W just got out of the tub and came in to proudly show me his freshly shaven legs.

But the panna cotta: I know I’ve gone on about how simple it is to make. I love being able to stir something together in two minutes and then go hey, I just whipped up a chai latte panna cotta for you. Because panna cotta sounds far more luxurious and complicated than Jell-O. No one’s particularly impressed by that. Even if you put a can of fruit cocktail in.

Panna cotta is just gelled cream – the perfect spring dessert. There are of course a ton of things you can do to fancy it up; you could flavour the cream with citrus, ginger, chocolate, brown sugar or spices. You could use buttermilk, or yogurt, or heavy cream. If there were a Desserts for Dummies book, panna cotta would be on the cover, because it’s almost impossible to screw up. All you have to do is dissolve the gelatin-if you manage that, you’re golden. (So: don’t crank up the heat and go check your email. If you keep it to medium and stay close so that the cream doesn’t boil over, you’ll be just fine.) This chai latte panna cotta is cute served in teacups, or pour it into little glasses or wine glasses and top with fresh berries. If you don’t want to go to Starbucks for a chai latte, start with 3 cups of cream and steep a chai teabag or two in it (bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and let it steep for 10 minutes or so), take the teabags out and add a couple tablespoons of honey.

If you like, rub a few ramekins with oil, pour in the cream mixture and chill, then unmould them onto little plates; I like to relieve myself of the pressure of a clean unmoulding by serving them in whatever cups they’ve set in. Why invite disaster to your dinner party?

Starbucks Chai Latte Panna Cotta


Yields1 Serving

1 grande chai latte
1 cup half & half or whipping cream
1 pkg. unflavoured gelatin


Dump the latte and cream into a small pot and sprinkle with the gelatin. Turn the heat to medium and heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it's steaming hot and the gelatin has dissolved completely. Pour into tea cups, small glasses or wine glasses. Chill until firm.



 1 grande chai latte
 1 cup half & half or whipping cream
 1 pkg. unflavoured gelatin



Dump the latte and cream into a small pot and sprinkle with the gelatin. Turn the heat to medium and heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it's steaming hot and the gelatin has dissolved completely. Pour into tea cups, small glasses or wine glasses. Chill until firm.

Starbucks Chai Latte Panna Cotta

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23 comments on “Chai Latte Panna Cotta

  1. Heather
    May 18, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    I agree – Starbucks’ chai lattes are gross, and it is because they make them too strong (I find this with their drinks in general). If I ask them to use less chai mix, it’s OK. Great way to rehabilitate this one!

  2. Buddiegirl
    May 18, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    I love Starbucks Chai Lattes. I think that the Tazo chai mix is the best one around, and I have had plenty of chai drinks in many different coffee places.

    When I order a Chai at Starbucks, I always get it 1/2 sweet (they use less sugar syrup) and it is perfect to my taste. I also order it without foam so I get more latte for my money. There is also the option to get it with no water and you can always ask for one less shot of chai syrup than usua,l for the size you order.

    I have wondered about panna cotta and whether or not I would like it since I HATE jello. It sounds good, but if it does have the texture of jello, then I would have to pass.

    About W and his freshly shave legs, I guess it is never too early to start “manscaping”, LOL.

  3. Trissa
    May 19, 2010 at 4:41 am

    I don’t like anything Starbucks but glad that you managed to salvage your drink (I don’t like wasting either!)… maybe next time I’ll see a starbucks coffee panna cotta? 🙂

  4. heather
    May 19, 2010 at 7:06 am

    chai tea is perfect for me but it is a strong, acquired taste. way to be resourceful!



  5. Jan (Family Bites)
    May 19, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Starbucks Chai Latte is my favourite winter drink! I will try this next season for sure…brilliant as always.

  6. Christine
    May 19, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Chai Lattes from Second Cup are MUCH better. But also delicious is a Chai Latte (w/ shot of espresso) at the Avenue Deli in Marda Loop. Oh and their sandwiches are good too. New reader, enjoy your blog. Not much makes me laugh out loud at 7:30am, but your small fry with freshly shaven legs did the trick! Have a great day!

  7. Fiona
    May 19, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Nice save!

    I used to love the chai latte at Starbucks, but I think way back at the beginning they weren’t as foamy. I’m not much of an Sbux fan to begin with, but now when I go there I get a misto, with Earl Grey tea and steamed vanilla milk. Which might also make good panna cotta, come to think of it.

  8. tasteofbeirut
    May 19, 2010 at 7:43 am

    I try to go to Starbucks as little as possible and never order mixed drinks; however the panna cotta with the chai is a great idea and I am sure it tastes just fab!

  9. Cheryl
    May 19, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Not a fan of Starbuck’s version of a chai latte myself. So many other good ones out there. I stick with tea when Hubby goes in to get his Americano.

    Love, love, love this idea!

  10. sue.d
    May 19, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Sleek! Both W and your panna cotta, of course. You’re both utterly brilliant!

  11. Debbie
    May 19, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Those look absolutely lovely. I can’t wait to try it!

  12. Lana in South Mountain (ON)
    May 19, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I just might try this for Friday’s Pizza Night! It’s a perfect summer dessert..mmmm..and I LOVE chai.

  13. Alison
    May 19, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I’ve taken to making little coffee puddings out of whatever’s left in the pot at lunch time (half coffee, half cream, with a corresponding amount of Bird’s, sugar, and vanilla or Kahlua). Maybe tomorrow’s will be panna cotta instead!

  14. Anonymous
    May 19, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    I am a huge fan of the blended Chai latte’s at Starbucks, especially in the heat of the summer. A great save by making it into my new found favourite desserts Julie.

  15. Cory Lievers
    May 19, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Ya, chai/green tea latte’s from starbucks/second cup aren’t as good as they can be. Go to Timothy’s World Coffee, much better. The guy’s at Chinook really know how to make them, although my last trip there that kiosk in the food court had boards around it so maybe they are shut down now.

  16. Nancy G
    May 19, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Seriously Julie, is there anything you can’t do?! I’m assuming the same technique would work with a green tea latte? (which is also quite strong at Starbucks).

  17. Julia
    May 19, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Many years ago, I was a Sbucks employee (back when they used to pull espresso shots rather than pushing a magic espresso button), and the chai has always been a bit overpowering. To me, the syrup smells like burnt hermit cookies – not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely an unacquired taste once you’ve spent a year scraping it off your shoes. Your panna cotta idea is inspired. For the first time in a decade, I kind of want to go to Starbucks.

    Julie, this is the first time I’ve commented. I thought it was high time, given I’ve been following your blog since the beginning. I’m sorry for being a creepy troll. I really respect how hard you work and how good you are at what you do, and I always look forward to your recipes and stories. Thanks so much.

  18. thepinkpeppercorn
    May 20, 2010 at 10:05 am

    That is just wrong how easy that is! LOVE it!

  19. Adrian
    May 20, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Can you be more specific about the coffee pudding? Sounds yummy!

  20. Kathy
    May 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I Love how the Italians and the French have such fancy-schmancy sounding names for food! Because cream jello wouldn’t have the same ring.

    Just wait til W. starts waxing 😉

  21. Sharlene
    May 20, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    My boyfriend and I are big fans of the chai latte at Starbucks although, admittedly, sometimes they come out too sweet moreso lately than in past years. This is such a great and easy idea to salvage one and turns the hot drink into a cold treat. Thanks!

  22. Alison
    May 22, 2010 at 12:45 am

    @Adrian Today’s example: mix 3 Tbsp Bird’s custard powder with 3 Tbsp sugar in a medium saucepan. Mix in 1.25 cups coffee and 1.25 cups cream. Cook overedium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, but is still pourable. Remove from heat and add flavoring (1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 oz. liqueur, whatever you think tastes good with coffee). Pour into small ramekins and chill until set.

  23. Marisa
    June 4, 2010 at 8:30 am

    I am such a chai slut, this is definitely going on my to-make list.

    PS: loving the shaved leg tidbit.

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