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I opened the bottle of your vanilla extract last weekend to bake some cookies and the difference in taste is extraordinary." – Judy

Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Panna Cotta

This is, hands down, the best panna cotta I’ve ever tasted. I suspect that the buttermilk plays a starring role as it provides a delicately tart undertaste. I have to say, I have never ordered a second dessert at a restaurant before, but my friend ate part of mine so, when he went to the rest room, I ordered a second one! Fortunately, he found this amusing.

Because raspberries are scarce and expensive in the latter autumn, I used plain frozen raspberries and made the sauce. Worked perfectly. You can add slices of ripe pear for a refreshing balance to the richness of the pannas.

Delfina recommends using styrofoam cups (if you can find them) for making the dessert. I had regular paper cups and they worked.  The caramelized sugar didn’t all come out, so after I plated the panna cotta, I dipped the cup briefly in a bowl with hot water and drizzled the sugar over the custard. If you have silicone custard molds, use those instead of paper cups. Less waste. 

I admit that it was at least as good as when I had it the first time and I ate TWO of them again!! Best part is there’s no one to send me to my room for being bad.



Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Panna Cotta




1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons water

The Cream

13/4 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup + 2tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon powdered gelatin or approx. 1-1/2 sheets bronze gelatin

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 Vanilla Bean (I recommend Tahitian) or 1/2 teaspoon Rain’s Choice ground Vanilla Bean Powder

11/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Berry Garnish

1/2 cup fresh raspberries, packed plus

12 each raspberries and blackberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice


To Make the Caramel

In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the sugar and the lemon juice with just enough water to stir and moisten to a sandy texture, being careful not to get any sugar on the sides of the pot. Cook over high heat, until caramelized to a dark brown color. Remove from the heat and, standing at arm’s length from the pot, add the 2 teaspoons of water. (Be careful not to burn yourself from the sputtering caramel.) Set aside for about 5 minutes, then pour the caramel into the bottom of 6 4-ounce styrofoam or unwaxed paper cups. Set aside the cups until caramel hardens.

To Make the Cream

Place gelatin in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons of cold water and allow to soften for 5 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, add cream and vanilla bean, sliced open. Gently stir the sugar into the mixture with a rubber spatula over low heat, and heat until hot to the touch. Remove from heat. Stir in the softened gelatin until it dissolves. Stir in the buttermilk and the lemon juice. Remove vanilla bean and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Scrape seeds out of vanilla pod and add to the cream. If using ground vanilla bean powder, add now.

Divide the mix equally among the caramelized molds. Refrigerate until the gelatin sets and the panna cotte are firm enough to unmold, at least 8 hours.

Invert the cup over a plate and puncture the bottom (now the top) with the tip of the paring knife. Invert the cup against the serving plate and it will slowly slide out.

To Make the Berry Sauce

Put sugar in a small pot with lemon juice and water. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil. Allow to boil for about 5 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

Put 1/2 cup raspberries in a blender with 1/4 cup of sugar syrup. Blend until smooth and strain through a fine strainer. Taste to adjust sweetening. Set aside until time to plate desserts.

To Plate

Set out 6 chilled plates

Cut remaining blackberries and raspberries in half (if using) in a bowl with 1/2 teaspoon of syrup.

Invert the pannas over a plate one by one, piercing the bottom of the styrofoam containers and gently sliding them out onto the middle of each plate.

Drizzle a ring of raspberry sauce around each one and divide berries between the plates.

Serve immediately.

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Patricia Rain
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3 Responses

  1. Yum, I am definitely trying this! Thanks for sharing this dessert.

    Also, I was just wondering – I’m from Brisbane, Australia, and up in Tropical North Queensland, there are several vanilla plantations. Broken Nose Vanilla, Vanilla Australia and Daintree Vanilla & Spice. Would these be one of the three (or, technically two) types of Vanilla or would Australian Vanilla be different again? I’m supposing it would taste different regardless because of the different terroir, but am just interested as to what category you think it would fall into.



  2. Good question Genevieve. So glad you know about these wonderful companies. I get a lot of requests for vanilla from Aussies and I always refer them to these companies.

    The answer is they all grow Vanilla planifolia, and yes, terroir definitely gives them a little difference in flavor, but it will be subtle.

    As per the panna cotta, just served it last night to friends and they swooned and begged for the recipe. It’s a real keeper!!

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