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America's Test Kitchen Buttermilk Vanilla Panna Cotta (Ep 2103)

Buttermilk Vanilla Panna Cotta with Berries and Honey


WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:  Our silky-smooth, delicately textured buttermilk panna cotta is an elegant dessert that requires some waiting but hardly any work. We made it even simpler by skipping the traditional step of sprinkling gelatin over cold water to bloom it before dissolving it in hot cream. Instead, we whisked together the gelatin, sugar, and salt and then whisked in cold heavy cream. Dispersed by the sugar and salt, the gelatin granules had plenty of space to absorb water from the cream, which readied the gelatin for heating. Bringing the mixture to 150 degrees ensured that the gelatin fully dissolved and the floral notes of the vanilla bean were thoroughly infused into the cream. To prevent curdling, we let the mixture cool to 110 degrees before adding the buttermilk. Finally, we portioned the panna cotta and refrigerated it until it was time to serve. Its tangy richness is the perfect foil for a drizzle of honey and a few ripe summer berries.

½ cup (3½ ounces) sugar

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin Pinch table salt

2     cups heavy cream

1 vanilla bean

2 cups buttermilk


Fresh raspberries and/or blackberries

  1. Whisk sugar, gelatin, and salt in small saucepan until very well combined. Whisk in cream and let sit for 5 minutes. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Using tip of paring knife, scrape out seeds. Add bean and seeds to cream mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture registers 150 to 160 degrees, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let mixture cool to 105 to 110 degrees, about 15 minutes. Strain cream mixture through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Gently whisk in buttermilk.
  2. Set eight 5-ounce ramekins on rimmed baking sheet. Divide buttermilk mixture evenly among ramekins. Invert second rimmed baking sheet on top of ramekins and carefully transfer to refrigerator. Chill for at least 6 hours   or up to 3 days (if chilling for more than 6 hours, cover each ramekin with plastic wrap)
  3. Working with 1 panna cotta at a time, insert paring knife between panna cotta and side of ramekin. Gently run knife around edge of ramekin to loosen panna cotta. Cover ramekin with serving plate and invert panna cotta onto plate. (You may need to gently jiggle ramekin.) Drizzle each panna cotta with honey, then top with 3 to 5 berries and serve.

Photo Credit: Carl Tremblay