I had some leftover buttermilk, and initially it was a toss-up between making scones or a buttermilk pound cake. But it’s been so hot in recent weeks that I really haven’t had much desire to cook or bake (when I don’t feel like being in the kitchen you know it’s really uncomfortably hot!). I didn’t want to waste the buttermilk either, so after a lot of humming and hawing, I finally decided to make panna cotta.
Panna cotta is probably one of the most well-known Italian desserts. It literally means “cooked cream”, and in its simplest form, is just cream and sugar heated up, with the addition of vanilla and then set with gelatin. Of course, nowadays you’ll mostly find recipes that swap out some of the cream for milk or half and half (or buttermilk, in this case) which helps take the edge off some of the richness of the heavy cream.
The wonderful thing about panna cotta is that it requires minimal effort. A few minutes of cooking on the stovetop and not having to turn on the oven was a welcome relief for me, in the sweltering heat. Panna cotta is probably one of the simplest, yet most sophisticated desserts you can make.
This panna cotta is light and refreshing and the perfect end to a summer meal. The buttermilk lends a tangy flavour and the lemon verbena adds a delightfully sweet, citrusy aroma. It’s so good that after using up the buttermilk (which was the reason I came up with this dessert in the first place), I went out and bought another carton of buttermilk so I could make it again! And then – because I had leftover buttermilk – I made it a third time…all within the span of a couple of weeks!
If you like panna cotta, make sure you also check out Lavender Panna Cotta with Raspberry Coulis!
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LEMON VERBENA BUTTERMILK PANNA COTTA WITH BLUEBERRY COMPOTE (Makes 6 – 125 ml ramekins)
Panna Cotta Ingredients:
360 ml heavy cream
360 ml full-fat buttermilk
90 grams sugar
1/2 cup dried lemon verbena leaves
5-1/2 sheets (9.16 grams) gelatin sheets* (or 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin)
*I used an organic brand of gelatin sheets that are smaller than normal; usually one gelatin sheet is about 3 grams, in which case you would need about 3 sheets.
Blueberry Compote Ingredients:
277 grams (2 cups) fresh blueberries**
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons water
**You can substitute with 2 cups of frozen blueberries. Do not thaw beforehand. Omit the 4 tablespoons of water
1. Prepare 6 -125 ml ramekins by lightly oiling them.
2. Heat cream, sugar and lemon verbena leaves in a pot over medium heat, just until warm and the sugar has dissolved (do not boil). Remove from heat, cover and let infuse for 30 minutes.
3. Soak the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water (if using powdered gelatin, sprinkle it over 3 tablespoons of water, stir and leave it for about 5 minutes to moisten).
4. Reheat cream mixture again until warm but not boiling. Remove from heat.
5. Squeeze gelatin sheets to remove excess water, add to the cream (or add in powdered gelatin mixture) and stir to dissolve. Set aside to cool slightly, until barely lukewarm.
6. Stir in buttermilk.
7. Strain and pour into ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
1. In a saucepan, add in half the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes until some of the liquid has evaporated.
2. Add in remaining blueberries and continue cooking for 5 to 8 more minutes. The sauce will have thickened (if using frozen blueberries, you will need to cook for longer since they will release more juices).
3. Remove from heat and cool.
4. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Run a small sharp knife around the edge of the ramekin. Place a plate over top of ramekin, invert and gently shake to unmold the panna cotta. Top with blueberry compote. Serve chilled.