Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Blackberries

It's getting pretty melty in the photo below, but it was still delicious.  This panna cotta uses buttermilk so that it comes out a little lighter and more tangy than traditional panna cotta made from mostly cream.  As my note below mentions, that means this dessert also comes along with buttermilk's many health benefits to boot.  I top this panna cotta with a blackberry sauce and fresh blackberries, as that's what was in season and free at the time thanks to our recent urban scavenging.  But you could top it any number of sauces, jams, or fresh fruits depending on what's in season.  
-3 Tbsp water
-1 packet (1 1/2 tsp or 7 grams) unflavored gelatin
-1 1/2 c heavy cream
-1/2 c sugar
-2 c buttermilk
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-blackberry jam
-juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
-fresh blackberries

->Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small bowl and let stand until soft, about 10-15 minutes.  

Meanwhile, combine 1 cup of the heavy cream and the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Once sugar is dissolved and cream begins to simmer, remove from heat immediately.  Add the dissolved gelatin to the cream-sugar mixture.  

Mix remaining cream, buttermilk, and vanilla together in a large bowl.  Add hot cream-sugar mixture.  Pour mixture into 8 ramekins or other small dishes/bowls, dividing equally.  Refrigerate until set (like creamy jello), which will be several hours or overnight.  I did mine in the late afternoon, and it was set in time for an after-dinner dessert.  

When ready to serve, add lemon juice and zest to jam.  It should be the consistency of a thick syrup.  

Then unmold your panna cotta by dipping the ramekins in hot water for about 30 seconds (no longer!).  Invert the serving plate over the ramekin, and flip the panna cotta over onto the serving plate.  If this step scares you, you could also just serve the panna cotta in the ramekin.  

Top with blackberry jam mixture and garnish with fresh blackberries to serve.  

~*TIP:  As mentioned above, buttermilk is brimming with added health benefits that make it a great choice over other milk products.  Traditionally, buttermilk was made by allowing the liquid left over from the butter churning process to ferment naturally.  However, today's buttermilk sold in stores is generally made by adding live active bacteria cultures to milk, similar to how yogurt is made.  Therefore the "live active cultures" that everyone seeks out in yogurt lately are also present in buttermilk, along with all of their health benefits.  Try subbing buttermilk not just in pancakes, biscuits, and muffins, but also in many recipes that call for cream or sour cream.  Everything from what you top your bake potato with to what you make your ice "cream" out of...  Trust me, you won't be disappointed, and your digestive tract and immune system will thank you for it.  *~

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