This panna cotta recipe from The Seasonal Baker is simple; buttermilk and vanilla paste combine to provide an elegant tang. Placed atop orange zest-flavored sugar cookies, the crumbly-smooth contrast can't be beat.
Note: Vanilla paste is a viscous, concentrated vanilla flavoring made with the tiny black seeds of long, thin, black vanilla beans. In the home kitchen, I recommend the paste instead of the beans for most recipes because the paste is less expensive and more convenient, and it has a longer shelf life. Vanilla paste is available at specialty stores. Refrigerate for up to several months.
Reprinted with permission from The Seasonal Baker by John Barricelli. Copyright © 2012. Published by Clarkson Potter. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.
- For the Panna Cotta
- 1 (1/4-ounce) envelope (about 1 tablespoon) gelatin
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract (see note)
- For the Cookies
- 1 1/3 cups (about 7 ounces) flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste, or pure vanilla extract (see step 3)
- grated zest of 1/2 orange
- 1 large egg white, whisked with a fork
- 1/4 cup sanding sugar
- Homemade or good-quality store-bought whipped cream
- 6 perfect fresh raspberries, for garnish
Spray six 4-ounce ramekins lightly with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
To make the panna cotta: In a small bowl, sprinkle 5 tablespoons of cold water over the gelatin and let stand for 5 minutes.
In a 1-quart saucepan, combine the buttermilk, cream, granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla paste, if using. Heat over medium heat until hot to the touch; do not boil. Remove from the heat. Add the gelatin and stir to dissolve.
Strain the mixture into a large Pyrex measuring cup and stir in the vanilla extract, if using. Divide among the prepared ramekins. Cover with plastic (do not allow the plastic to touch the custard mixture) and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
Set the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick silicone baking mat.
To make the cookies: On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough about 1⁄8 inch thick. Cut out 6 rounds with a 3-inch fluted cookie cutter. Place on the prepared baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes. Lightly brush with egg white (just enough to encourage the sugar to stick) and sprinkle each round with 1/4 teaspoon sanding sugar. Bake until the edges and bottoms of the cookies are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely.
To serve, place a cooled cookie on six small serving plates. Use your fingers to gently loosen the edges of the panna cottas from the sides of the ramekins. Invert each onto a cookie. Top each with a dab of whipped cream and a raspberry.