Panna cotta is a simple, eggless Italian custard that can be flavored countless ways. In this version, buttermilk adds a silky texture and tangy flavor. Just bloom gelatin in cream, then heat the mixture with sugar and vanilla seeds. Strain, stir in the buttermilk, pour into ramekins, and chill. Serve this creamy dessert topped with fresh berries or over a pool of Raspberry Coulis.
Special equipment: You’ll need a pastry brush and 6 (6-ounce) ramekins for this recipe.
Game plan: This dessert can be made up to 1 day in advance.
Nestle the empty vanilla bean pod from this recipe in a jar of granulated sugar to make vanilla sugar—it’s great for sweetening whipped cream or your morning coffee.
Vegetable oil, for coating the ramekins
1 1/2 cupsheavy cream
1 (1/4-ounce) packetunflavored gelatin
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
Brush 6 (6-ounce) ramekins with a thin layer of vegetable oil; set them aside. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large measuring cup with a spout or a large bowl and set it aside.
Place the cream in a medium saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the surface. Let stand undisturbed until the gelatin has softened, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla seeds and stir to combine.
Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping down the sides of the pan as needed with a rubber spatula, until the gelatin and sugar have dissolved and the mixture no longer feels grainy when rubbed between your fingers, about 5 to 7 minutes. (Do not let the mixture simmer or the gelatin won’t set properly.)
Pour the mixture into the prepared strainer and discard the contents of the strainer. Stir in the buttermilk until combined and immediately divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins. Lightly press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of each panna cotta to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.
To serve, remove the ramekins from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the perimeter of each panna cotta, cover it with a serving plate, and flip to unmold, using the knife to gently nudge the panna cotta out of the ramekin if necessary. Serve immediately.