This panna cotta is light and creamy, with a great tang from the buttermilk and just slightly sweet. It's my go-to recipe when I want a simple dessert to serve to dinner guests because everyone loves it, and I don't want to spend half the night in the kitchen pulling it together.
The flavor and texture of this panna cotta is made for pairing with fruit (think yogurt but sweeter, lighter, and more fancy). I prefer macerated berries, cherries, peaches, and plums in the summertime, or cooked compotes of spiced apple or pear in the winter months. If you go with strawberries, I recommend adding a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar for a really special treat.
Learn The Technique!
Right this way for a step-by-step slideshow of the techniques used in this recipe!
- Yield:makes 6 servings
- Active time: 15 minutes
- Total time:4 hours 15 minutes
- 1.5 teaspoons powdered, unflavored gelatin
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 more for strawberries
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- For garnish (optional)
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 8 ounces strawberries, hulled and quartered
If molding panna cotta: spray the bottom and sides of 6 molds with nonstick cooking spray. If serving in cups: set aside 6 clean, dry cups.
Bloom gelatin in cold water. Allow to sit 2 minutes.
Stir gelatin to ensure that there are no dry spots.
Combine cream, vanilla, sugar, and salt and stir over medium heat for approximately 3 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture comes to a low boil.
Remove from heat. Stir in gelatin. Return to low heat and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved, about 1 minute.
Remove from heat. Add the buttermilk and stir until completely homogenous.
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.
Portion the liquid into the cups or molds and refrigerate until set and jiggly, about 4 hours. Meanwhile, prepare garnish if using.
Carefully run a small knife around the edge of the panna cotta to loosen it.
Place a plate over the top of the mold and invert.
The panna cotta can immediately be garnished with sauce of your choice. For best results, use sauces that are room temperature or cooler.
To make balsamic drizzle: Gently heat the balsamic in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow the vinegar to reduce by half, until it has noticeably thickened, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely before using.
To make the strawberries: Place the hulled and quartered strawberries in a bowl. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup sugar over them and toss gently. Allow them to macerate (sit and allow the sugar to pull out some of the liquid, creating a nice juicy sauce) for 10 minutes. These can be covered and refrigerated before serving.
To plate the dessert, gently pour a little of the balsamic reduction onto each plate at the base of the panna cotta. Spoon strawberries on top and serve immediately.