Buttermilk Panna Cotta


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

Gelatin desserts have gotten a bad rap among sophisticated eaters because of our experience with Jell-O. But gelatin has a history that predates the little box by centuries, and it can be the basis for some very contemporary desserts. This panna cotta is one of my favorites. In Italian, panna cotta translates to “cooked cream.” In this version, buttermilk lightens the texture and adds an interesting tang. Look for a quality buttermilk with good flavor. The tip-off for me are those labeled Russian- or Bulgarian-style. This is fabulous with the Raspberry Sauce.


  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (less than 1 envelope)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Raspberry Sauce


POUR cup water into a small saucepan and sprinkle in the gelatin. Set aside for 5 minutes while the gelatin softens. Add the sugar, cream, and zest, and heat slowly, until it just begins to steam. Do not simmer or boil. Stir constantly to dissolve the sugar. This will take about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the buttermilk.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, then transfer it to a 3-cup decorative mold or ring-shaped cake pan or into six ½-cup molds. Cover the mold(s) with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dessert is firm and chilled, at least 2 hours. Panna cottas can be made a day ahead and then unmolded at serving time.

To serve, dip the mold(s) into hot water for a few seconds and then invert the panna cotta onto a serving plate or individual plates. Gently shake to loosen, and then remove the mold(s). Serve with Raspberry Sauce.