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.
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.
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
strawberries and drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Pour the 3 Tablespoons water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top of the water and let sit for 10 minutes.
In a medium sized, heavy saucepan heat and stir the cream, lemon zest, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the split and scraped vanilla bean if using.
Next, let the mixture come just to a boil. Pull off the heat and add the gelatin.
Stir until the gelatin mixture is dissolved.
Set mixture aside to cool to room temperature.
Remove the vanilla bean pod, if using.
Add the buttermilk (and, if using instead of a vanilla bean, the vanilla paste.)
Strain the mixture to remove the lemon zest.
Divide the mixture between the molds or ramekins. (you can spray a VERYLIGHT coating of vegetable spray into your mold to help with the release of the panna cotta)
This recipe will fill 8 6 oz. ramekins full.
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.