Let’s be straight up about panna cotta. When I serve it to people, and they ask me what it is, I don’t know what to say other than “milk jello,” which sounds disgusting. Then I have to assure them that it’s actually really good, and not like what you’d expect from milk jello at all. In reality, panna cotta is a mild, only slightly sweet, summery dessert. I’ve made panna cotta before, but this is the first time that I’ve been really satisfied with the texture and taste. Not too jelled, sweet without overpowering the subtle tang from the buttermilk. This time around, it was perfect.
This is the kind of dessert that doesn’t require the oven being turned on, and can be made as many as three days in advance. It would be the perfect dessert for a barbeque. I’m slowly developing the menu for the ideal summer backyard party–and it includes these homemade hot dog buns, these burgers, this panna cotta, and a bunch of big, dry rosés. You’re invited. Don’t worry.
I think that you could do any summery fruit in this panna cotta. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches. They’d all be good. Raspberries work particularly well–I think because they’re tender and delicate like the panna cotta itself. But if you have a bunch of fresh peaches, that’s your game. Go with it.
Raspberry Buttermilk Panna Cotta
(yields 6 ramekins, 6oz each)
1 pint raspberries, washed
1 1/2 buttermilk, shaken well
2 1/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1/4 c sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1 1/2 c half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 t black pepper
pinch koster salt
Find six glasses that can each hold 6 ounces of liquid. In the cups, evenly divide the raspberries. Then, chill the glasses. (I like to put mine on a cookie sheet for easy transportation.)
Put 1/2 cup of the buttermilk into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Then, over medium low heat, stir in the sugar and stir until both the gelatin and sugar are dissolved. When everything is dissolved, remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the remaining buttermilk, the half and half, the vanilla, salt, and black pepper.
Pour the mixture into the chilled glasses, over the raspberries. Make sure it’s mostly even. Cover each glass (I like to use jars so that they have lids) and chill them for a minimum of 2 hours and up to three days. Serve cold, with a spoon!