Buttermilk Panna Cotta

The key to a perfect panna cotta is the right ratio of gelatin to dairy. Lisa Donovan uses just enough to set each dessert while maintaining a creamy, luscious texture. Using vanilla bean paste adds beautiful flecks to each panna cotta, but vanilla extract will work well, too.


  • 1 3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups best-quality whole buttermilk (such as Cruze Farm)
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and segmented blood oranges or other fresh fruit

How to Make It:

Step 1:

Sprinkle gelatin over 3 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes to dissolve, stirring once.

Step 2:

Meanwhile, combine heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan over medium, and cook, whisking often, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot, 4 to 5 minutes (do not boil). Remove from heat.

Step 3:

Whisk gelatin mixture into cream mixture until fully dissolved. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup with a spout; discard solids. Stir in buttermilk. Pour mixture evenly into 6 (6-ounce) ramekins or straight-sided glasses (about 1/2 cup each).

Step 4:  

Chill, uncovered, until set, at least 8 hours or up to 2 days. Serve in ramekins, or invert onto serving plates. (To invert, run an offset spatula around edges of panna cotta. Dip bottom half of ramekin in hot water for 10 seconds. Invert panna cotta onto serving plate.) Serve with blood orange segments.

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