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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Guilt-free Panna Cotta Recipe

Lately I've been reading so many blog posts about panna cotta that I guess it seeped into my consciousness. When I learned that the next Is My Blog Burning was "Has my blog jelled?", like a lemming to a cliff, I felt compelled to make it. To see the comprehensive list of jelled postings, visit Elise's blog.

Panna Cotta means cooked cream in Italian. It's a chilled custard primarily made from cream, that is thickened with gelatin rather than eggs. As a result, panna cotta is super creamy, light textured and smooth and of course frighteningly high in calories.

Surfing around the web, I found a version made mainly from buttermilk and tweaked it a bit, adding vanilla and minimizing the sugar to increase the tang and decrease the guilt. By my calculations, using lowfat buttermilk and just a smidgen of cream, each serving is about 135 calories, and no more than 6 grams of fat. So without further ado I give you:

Guilt-free Panna Cotta
serves 6


1 envelope unflavored gelatin (.25 oz)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract (or 1/2 the inside scrapings of a vanilla bean)
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 1/3 cup buttermilk (low fat is fine, use Bulgarian style if you can find it)

Berry sauce
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup strawberries
1 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon sugar
extra berries for garnish


In the medium saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over water; whisk to combine, then let stand. Add sugar, cream and salt and heat over low heat until just boiling, whisking to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and stir in buttermilk and vanilla. Pour into six 6 ounce (3/4 cup) ramekins or molds. Cover and refrigerate panna cottas until firm, about 2 hours. Let compote cool to room temperature. Fill a bowl with hot water (tap is fine). Run a butter knife around the edge of the ramekin to loosen. Dip ramekins or molds in hot water for a few seconds, then invert panna cottas onto dessert plates. Holding the plate and ramekin, shake to loosen, then lift off ramekins or molds. Spoon fruit or sauce around panna cotta, garnish with berries and serve.

Berry sauce
Puree the berries with the water and sugar. Push through a strainer to remove seeds and taste for sugar. You may want to add more sugar if your berries are not sweet enough or a squeeze of lemon if they are very sweet.