Buttermilk Panna Cotta. Simple and Perfect.

This is hands down, my absolute favorite dessert.

I can’t think of a sin­gle sweet con­coc­tion that I would turn down a per­fect panna cotta for. And this panna cotta is per­fect. The tex­ture is almost  inde­scrib­able. It’s smooth and light, with a slight tin­gle from the but­ter­milk. It is the sim­ple and per­fect foil for any kind of fruit, but not because it has no pro­file of its own. I love to eat it alone. I love to eat it alone while I am alone. Tak­ing small bites. And savor­ing the feel and taste of each one. But top it with any num­ber of fruity or sweet accom­pa­ni­ments. Man. This panna cotta makes every­thing taste better.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta couldn’t be eas­ier to make. The ingre­di­ents are so sim­ple. If you can track down local cream and but­ter­milk, I promise you wont regret it. Fresh is what can take this dessert to it’s most deli­cious. You need a suit­able con­tainer to mold them in. Glass works the best. A six-ounce ceramic ramekin is great. I have a set of glass dessert bowls with a pretty rip­ple on the inside that makes for a really pretty presentation.

But­ter­milk Panna Cotta. Sim­ple and Perfect.


  • 3 Table­spoons water
  • 2 1/4 tea­spoons unfla­vored gelatin
  • 2 cups whip­ping cream–use reg­u­lar, not heavy or ultra pasteurized
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup gran­u­lated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 Table­spoon vanilla bean paste
  • top­ping ideas:
  • fruit coulis
  • berry com­pote
  • straw­ber­ries and driz­zle of bal­samic vinegar
  • honey


  1. Pour the 3 Table­spoons water into a small bowl. Sprin­kle the gelatin over the top of the water and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium sized, heavy saucepan heat and stir the cream, lemon zest, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add the split and scraped vanilla bean if using.
  4. Next, let the mix­ture come just to a boil. Pull off the heat and add the gelatin.
  5. Stir until the gelatin mix­ture is dissolved.
  6. Set mix­ture aside to cool to room temperature.
  7. Remove the vanilla bean pod, if using.
  8. Add the but­ter­milk (and, if using instead of a vanilla bean, the vanilla paste.)
  9. Strain the mix­ture to remove the lemon zest.
  10. Divide the mix­ture between the molds or ramekins. (you can spray a VERY LIGHT coat­ing of veg­etable spray into your mold to help with the release of the panna cotta)
  11. This recipe will fill 8 6 oz. ramekins full.
  12. Let set in the refrig­er­a­tor for 4–6 hours. This recipe can be made ahead a day, but real­ize that the longer it sits, the firmer it will set, thus affect­ing the tex­ture, Really, it is per­fect at about 6 hours.
  13. Serve with any of the above sug­gested toppings.

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One Comment

  1. I’ve heard of panna cotta for years but thought it must be a fussy recipe…not at all! I used vanilla paste which was fan­tas­tic. I topped it with fresh rasp­ber­ries but it really didn’t need anything…thanks for the great recipe! Your Chicken and Wild Rice Soup is on the stove now and smells wonderful!


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