Saturday’s bounty became Sunday’s dessert.
When I discovered these black raspberries at the local farmers market, I thought panna cotta. There are very few desserts easier to make. And this silky-smooth dish can be so elegant.
Infused with a crush of black raspberries or mixed with buttermilk and topped with a nip of Cabernet Sauvignon jam, I think you’re going to love this.
Yes, I made two versions to share with you today but the possible variations are almost limitless. At its simplest, it is cream, sugar, and gelatin. Usually the cream is infused with some flavor. Lemon zest, basil, almond extract, mint, and so on. Find a flavor and get creative.
Be aware, this takes about ten minutes to make but needs to then set up in the refrigerator for at least several hours. Ideally, overnight is even better.
I love the fantastic dark purple color of a black raspberry. Especially when mixed into a normally neutral-colored dish like panna cotta. (The USDA used black raspberry dye for many years to stamp meat.)
And they are a superfood loaded with antioxidants. Win-win.
For this one, I wanted a sweeter panna cotta to dance with the tartness of the black raspberries. So I’m using two cups of whole milk, a cup of heavy cream, a cup of organic powdered sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla. To tie it together, I used a large pinch of sea salt.
Note: I’m using powdered gelatin. If you’re using sheets, follow the directions on the package to bloom them. Usually one envelope is about four sheets but, again, they do vary a bit so check your package to be sure.
Pour a cup of the liquid into a sauce pan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let that bloom for a few minutes. It should absorb some of the liquid and look goopy.
Turn on the heat to medium high. Add the rest of your ingredients and mix well. The goal is to heat this up until it just starts to simmer and then turn off the heat. A few bubbles — not boiling. You only need to get it hot enough to properly dissolve the sugar and gelatin.
Then you strain it, pour it into whatever bowls or cups you want to serve it from, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for 6-8 hours or overnight if possible.
For the black raspberry variation, I crushed the berries with a fork and stirred them in after I strained the base. (If you don’t want the seeds, you can push the berries through a sieve first but these are very small seeds and some will probably still pass right through.)
Speaking of serving, if you use something with smooth sides then you can later unmold it onto a plate. I did this to show with traditional ramekins but I’ve seen it done in a variety of small bowls and even coffee cups. The trick is to invert it on a plate after warming the bottom of the bowl for ten to twenty seconds in hot water. If you’re planning ahead, you can optionally wipe down the bowl with a little oil before you pour in the panna cotta — just make sure to use an oil with a neutral flavor.
In a perfect world, the price of vanilla beans would be affordable. At least reasonable.
But there is a vanilla bean shortage this year and right now it’s $7.50 to $10.00 for a single bean at the grocery store. And it’s only going to get worse. So, please use good quality and real vanilla extract. No imitation vanilla and no “natural flavor” vanilla either, okay? That’s often code for castoreum. Read the label.
Panna Cotta, Black Raspberry and Buttermilk
Panna Cotta is so easy to make and yet still so elegant. And it is a delicious canvas on which to paint incredible flavors. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
Variation One: Black Raspberry
- 1 envelope gelatin
- 2 cups black raspberries
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup powdered sugar a.k.a. confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Variation Two: Buttermilk
- 1 envelope gelatin
- 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Pour 1 cup of the milk into a saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let it bloom for a few minutes.
Add all of the other ingredients except the berries (if using variation one).
Turn on the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer, stirring gently to dissolve and mix everything well.
Once it starts to simmer, turn off the heat.
Strain through a sieve.
If using variation one, crush the berries with a fork and stir into the mix.
Pour into serving dishes and cover with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight.
If you want to unmold it, set the bottom in some hot water for 10-20 seconds and invert it onto a plate.
For the second one, I mixed a cup-and-a-half of cream with the same amount of buttermilk, a half cup of granulated sugar, and again a teaspoon of vanilla. But no salt since the buttermilk already tempers the sweetness.
No infusions for this one, it’s good-to-go plain.
Then, I graced it with a chaser of Cabernet Sauvignon Jam which I also found at the farmers market.
And I ate it. Right then and there after I took the picture. I was going to save it, I swear I was, but that didn’t happen.
(My wife loves their Peach Bellini Jam and I think it’s a sure bet one of these ramekins will see some for dessert after dinner.)
I really hope you’ll give this a try. I used to see panna cotta on restaurant menus years ago, but I haven’t lately. And that’s too bad.
Maybe we could be the start of a comeback?