Oh, I am sooo loving this recipe, right now! It’s just so fresh, fast and easy. Perfect for summer. And perfect for everyone who wants to enjoy those long summer days outside instead of in the kitchen, without missing out on a great dessert. Because this truly is a great dessert!
It took me a few tries to get the recipe just right – which wasn’t really a big deal, because this recipe really is a breeze to whip up – but now that I have, I absolutely love it! The combination of tangy buttermilk, fresh cream and vanilla is delicious. Especially paired with some sweet, summery strawberries!
Because strawberries mean summer in my world. And vice versa. In other words, if I want a summery dessert, I use strawberries!
And I suggest you do the same…
Because this dessert is amazing!
I do have a confession though. Before I started developing this recipe, I had never had panna cotta. Shocker! I had learned from cookbooks and cooking shows on tv that panna cotta needs to be wobbly, but that’s about all I knew. So when I first started experimenting with different recipes, all I knew was that the result had to be wobbly. Not rubbery.
Rubbery panna cotta equals sad, droopy faces.
Anyway, I decided to make a buttermilk panna cotta, because I knew the tangy buttermilk would make the panna cotta nice and fresh and delicious. And tangy. Which can be expected from something that’s tangy in the first place… I was going for a summery dessert, remember? Besides, I knew buttermilk panna cotta was a thing. Apparently Donna Hay or Martha Stewart or some other cooking genius thought it up a few years ago, and now it’s all the rage.
Um, at least I think it is. But really, what do I know? I’m not really one of those foodie hipsters who knows these things. I only know what I like, and right now I like Vanilla Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Macerated Strawberries.
By the way, see the wobble in the panna cotta there? It shouldn’t set like jello. You want it to wobble!
The best thing about panna cotta – well the second best thing I think, because the taste and texture are definitely the best thing about it – is that it is just so incredibly, ridiculously, are-you-kidding-me easy to make. If you can place a pan of cream over low heat, you’re golden! There’s not much else to it. You just add cream, sugar and vanilla to a pan, heat until hot (you don’t even have to scald it or anything!), dissolve some gelatin in it, mix in some buttermilk, allow to cool, pour in pretty glasses and chill!
Which brings me to the gelatin.
I prefer to use sheet gelatin, because I always have trouble properly blooming powdered gelatin, which basically means that I always have trouble properly dissolving gelatin, which means that I always end up with an unset dessert when I use powdered gelatin. However, the problem with sheet gelatin is that it comes in a variety of different strengths.
But don’t worry. You don’t have to turn your local supermarket upside-down in search of the same gelatin that I’ve used. In the recipe, you’ll simply find how much liquid your gelatin should be able to set.
Here’s how that works. The packet of gelatin I bought contained six sheets, which was enough (according to the package instructions) to set 500ml (or about 17 ounces) of liquid. I used two sheets, which means that I used enough gelatin to set about 170ml (or about 5½ ounces) of liquid.
500 ml/6 sheets=83 ml per sheet
2 sheets = 2x 83ml = 166ml, or about 170ml
See the math there?
So, if you’re using, say, gold gelatin, you should know that it takes 5 sheets to set 500ml of liquid. Which means that, to set 170ml of liquid, or one third of 500ml, you’ll need
5 sheets/3=1,6 sheets of gold gelatin
Once you know this, you can just cut the sheets to your needs.
However, if you’re using powdered gelatin, the gelatin’s strength is often not specified. Buuuut… you can calculate it! I’m sorry for being a bit of a math geek today, but gelatin is important in this recipe. You really don’t want to end up with rubbery panna cotta…
So say you’re using powdered gelatin that comes in ¼ ounce envelopes. According to David Lebovitz, who is known for being right, 1 envelope of gelatin will firmly set 500ml of liquid. In his post he talks about 2 cups, but in my world, one cup is 240ml, and in his world, one cup is 250ml. Guess he’s not always right…
Anyway, 1 (¼ ounce) envelope of powdered gelatin firmly sets 500ml (or about 17 ounces. Or 2 cups and 4 teaspoons). So if you need enough gelatin to set 170ml of liquid, you need about a third of an envelope of gelatin. As there are about 2¼ to 2½ teaspoons of powdered gelatin in ¼ ounce, this means that you should use ¾ of a teaspoon to a scant teaspoon of powdered gelatin for this dessert.
Simple enough, right? But that’s all about gelatin!
Now let’s talk strawberries.
Macerating strawberries sounds fancy and difficult – so use it to impress your friends and family! – but it’s really the easiest thing you can do in the kitchen. It just means slicing up some strawberries, sprinkling them with sugar (and a little eau de vie for kicks if you want to! And yes, I wanted to!) and allowing the berries to become juicy in about fifteen minutes.
Not much to it… Really, really, really delicious!
And yes, even if you don’t like buttermilk, you need to make these with buttermilk. These panna cotta’s don’t really taste like buttermilk. I made them with regular milk too, but the buttermilk version just tastes so much better! Both the Rocking Rebel and I thought the regular milk version was too sweet, whereas the buttermilk panna cotta was – like I said – fresh, summery, light and a little, but just a little, tangy.
Perfect summer dessert!
- enough sheet gelatin to set 170ml of liquid*
- 1 vanilla bean
- 400ml (or 1½ + 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) whipping cream
- 150g (or ¾ cup) granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 200ml (or ¾ cup + 4 teaspoons) buttermilk
- 200g (or 7 ounces) washed and hulled strawberries, sliced
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon raspberry eau de vie (optional)
- Soak the gelatin according to the instructions on the package. Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, vanilla seeds, the scraped vanilla bean and salt. Heat over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, crank the heat up to medium-high and allow the cream to almost reach scalding point. Be sure not to scald it, though… Take off the heat.
- Squeeze the excess water out of the gelatin sheets and add the sheets to the hot cream mixture. Stir until the gelatin has dissolved.
- Stir in the buttermilk, then pour the mixture through a sieve into a measuring jug. Discard the vanilla bean.
- Allow the panna cotta mixture to cool to body temperature by placing the measuring jug in a bowl with cold water (with ice cubes, if you have them) and stirring occasionally. It’s important that the mixture has cooled to body temperature before you pour the mixture in the serving glasses (otherwise, a layer of condensed steam may form underneath the panna cotta in the glass).
- Once the panna cotta mixture has cooled, divide it over four pretty, 200ml (or ¾ cup + 4 teaspoons) serving glasses or jars. Place in the fridge until the panna cotta has set, at least six hours.
- Combine the sliced strawberries, sugar and eau de vie in a small bowl. Stir together and place in the fridge for about 15 minutes to allow the berries to become juicy. Spoon the topping over the panna cotta, and serve immediately.
* I used sheet gelatin, because it dissolves better than powdered gelatin. Check the package of the gelatin for instructions on how to soak it and for information about the gelatin's strength.
* If you want to use powdered gelatin, use about one third of an envelope of gelatin (or a scant teaspoon). Bloom according to the instructions on the package.