Panna cotta made with plain cream and gelatin can be a little bland. Using buttermilk cuts through the fatty flavor of the cream and not only makes a slightly lighter version, but also brings the flavors alive with zest and tartness. For the best flavor, use fresh heavy cream from a local dairy. Serve with a little fresh fruit on the side, such as a few perfect raspberries or some sliced fresh strawberries that have been macerated with sugar to make their juices run.

Serves 6


  • 1 1/2 tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 7 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk


Sprinkle the gelatin over 1 tablespoon of cold water in a small bowl; let soak for about 5 minutes.

Mix the cream and sugar in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pan with the cream, then add the pod. Heat the cream over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, or 3 to 5 minutes. Add the gelatin mixture to the hot cream and remove the pan from the heat, stirring to dissolve the gelatin thoroughly.

Stir in the buttermilk, and then pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl with a pouring lip, discarding any solids (this strains out any bits of gelatin and ensures a smooth, creamy result). Divide the strained mixture among six 8-ounce ramekins. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours. (If you would like to unmold the panna cotta before serving, dip the ramekin bases into a dish of hot water and invert the custards onto plates.)

From The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook: Recipes and Reflections From a Small Vermont Dairy (Andrews McMeel) by Diane St. Clair.

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