Buttermilk Panna Cotta

This Buttermilk Panna Cotta recipe makes an ideal spring/summer dessert—cool, tangy, perfect with fresh fruit in any form. But it’s also a lovely dessert for fall and winter, accompanied with poached dried fruits or a drizzle of maple syrup. Of course you can enjoy it just as it is without any accompaniment at all. Because buttermilk tends to separate when heated, a portion of milk or cream is used in order to dissolve the gelatin.

panna cotta

This recipe makes six ½-cup servings. For dishes, use ramekins, little espresso cups, dariole molds, or the like and plan to turn them out onto serving plates or, if you’ve used espresso cups, serve them right in the cups.



  1. Put the water in a small dish and sprinkle over the gelatin. Set it aside while you heat the half-and-half with the sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. The half-and-half should get hot, but it needn’t boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, stir the softened gelatin into the warm half-and-half and stir until it too has dissolved. Add the vanilla then gradually pour in the buttermilk, then pour the entire contents into a glass measuring cup with a beak to make it easy to pour.
  2. Divide the custard among your dishes, then put them on a tray for easy handling. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.
  3. To serve, carefully run a knife around the edges, then gently turn each one out onto a dessert plate.  Surround with pureed fresh fruit, sliced fruit, or if you’re a fan of fruit soups and fruit in syrup, surround your panna cotta with the fruit and its syrup. A drizzle of honey or maple syrup is good too, and so it absolutely nothing at all.