Citrus buttermilk panna cotta recipe

Published June 11, 2010 10:20PM (EDT)

Panna cotta
Panna cotta

The texture of panna cotta is a matter of taste, but to my mind, the very best examples are just barely solid enough to stand up. This recipe makes a firmer version than that, because it's a bit safer if you'd like to serve it unmolded onto a plate. If you like a softer texture, though, feel free to decrease the amount of gelatin in ¼ teaspoon increments.

Serves 6


  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons (7 grams or ¼ ounce envelope) powdered, unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces sugar by weight (½ cup plus 1 tablespoon; I'd drop the tablespoon if using O.J. below)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon AND/OR 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
  • 2 cups buttermilk (light is OK)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Anisette or Pernod, to taste, optional but very classy


  1. Gently sprinkle gelatin over milk so it doesn't clump up. Whisk or stir it to combine, and let it hydrate for 5 minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat cream, sugar, salt and lemon zest/orange juice concentrate (seriously; I hate drinking it, but it's kind of magic when used as a flavoring) over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the gelatin-milk mixture, and continue to heat, stirring constantly. Keep a close eye on it; don't let it come up to a simmer. When you see wisps of steam and tiny bubbles on the edge of the pan that don't go away with a stir, take it off heat and pour into a large bowl. (If you're using zest and want a perfectly smooth texture, strain out the zest now.)
  3. Let cream cool a few minutes until it's just warm. Add the buttermilk, vanilla and Pernod, if using. Let cool, if need be, to room temperature. Pour carefully into 6 glasses or ramekins, wrap tightly with plastic wrap. (If you get any on the sides of the glass, the mixture will set there and give a blurry appearance.) Gently tap the filled containers on the table to pop any bubbles on the surface, being careful not to splash, and chill a few hours until fully set.

Either serve directly in the glass or ramekin, or unmold -- slip a thin knife around the edge and invert onto a plate. Alternately, quickly dip the ramekin or glass in hot water for a second and invert to a plate, putting back in the fridge to re-set the edges.

Serve straight-up, with fresh fruit, or with gently cooked berries. 

By Francis Lam

Francis Lam is Features Editor at Gilt Taste, provides color commentary for the Cooking Channel show Food(ography), and tweets at @francis_lam.

MORE FROM Francis Lam

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Food Recipes