Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Peaches

This recipe made me jump for joy. Why? Because I adore panna cotta, but just assumed it was tricky or complicated to make. But amazing Lindsey sent this recipe — and it only has 3 ingredients! And hey, anything with just 3 ingredients is going to be doable, right? Also, don’t those peaches look mouth-watering? Though, I confess, I’m sure I would like this dessert just as much with strawberries or raspberries — or no topping at all. 

Here’s what Lindsey says:

Every time I sit down to write about a dessert, my inclination is to exclaim, “This is my favorite!” But I find that I’m saying that about every dessert. Ha! But I really do love, really LOVE, panna cotta. It’s an Italian dessert which translated means “cooked cream.” I never tried it when I was in Italy — I was more focused on trying every flavor of gelato at every street corner. I’m not even sure when the first time was that I made panna cotta, but I do remember thinking to myself, “Okay, this is something special.”

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Peaches

It is a special kind of dessert, but it’s awfully simple to make. The thing that makes panna cotta exceptional is the texture. It should be light, creamy, and jiggly; but not too firm. Think: creme brulee without the eggs. It uses gelatin, but it should not be at all like jell-o. No. That would be a travesty. It’s silky and smooth, and practically melts on your tongue.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Peaches

The ingredients are very simple as well: heavy cream, gelatin, and sugar. That’s it. Then they can be flavored as desired. My very favorite variation uses part buttermilk and heavy cream, and is flavored with vanilla. The tang of the buttermilk with the creaminess of the heavy cream and the sweet vanilla essence is the stuff dreams are made of. This dessert is heavenly.

Ingredients for Buttermilk Panna Cotta For Two

Panna cotta doesn’t need much of anything on top, but I think it’s splendid with fruit. Now that peaches are making their way back into season, I had to make a simple compote to pair with buttermilk panna cotta.

Peach Compote

Fresh peaches are kind of my go-to choice when we’re talking summer fruit, but if you can’t find any yet, you can substitute frozen and thawed peaches, or substitute your favorite fruit. Berries are magnificent with the tangy buttermilk. A little lemon juice helps brighten the flavors a bit and the brown sugar and cinnamon just kind of take it up another notch. To make the fruit a little more special, I add a splash of bourbon or brandy, but that’s completely optional.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Peaches

This is doing summer dessert right.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Peach Compote

Rounded 1/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For fresh peach compote:
1 large ripe peach, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 tablespoon bourbon or brandy (optional)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch ground cinnamon

1. Place buttermilk in bowl or glass measuring cup. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let stand for 5-10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the 1/3 cup heavy cream and sugar together in a small pan until just boiling, or microwave for about 45 seconds until very, very hot. Add to the gelatin and buttermilk. Stir well until gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the vanilla extract.
3. Pour into two 6- to 8-ounce ramekins, custard cups, or jars. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.
4. While the panna cottas are setting up, prepare the peach compote. Stir together all of the ingredients and let stand to allow flavors to blend. Chill until ready to serve.
5. To serve, unmold each panna cotta by dipping the ramekin in hot water for a few seconds and run the tip of a think knife around the edges and invert onto a platter. Or serve in the ramekin and top with the peaches. Serve chilled.

Variations and Substitutions
-Full-fat coconut milk can replace both the cream and buttermilk in this recipe
-If you’re not a fan of buttermilk, use all heavy cream or substitute whole milk for the buttermilk
-To infuse with other flavors, such as edible flowers (roses, lavender, violets, etc.), herbs, or spices, place a small amount of the flavoring agent (dried or fresh organic flowers, whole spices, fresh herbs) in the hot cream and allow to steep for at least 10-15 minutes, preferably 30 minutes. Reheat cream before proceeding with the recipe.
-Any other fruit can be substituted for the peaches. Fresh pineapple and papaya contain enzymes that will break down the gelatin, so don’t add until serving time.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Peaches


Wow, Lindsey! I feel exactly like you. Like I’m going to make this and be convinced it’s my favorite dessert ever — until I try your next recipe. : ) Thank you!

How about you, Dear Readers? Have you ever eaten Panna Cotta? Or tried to make it yourself? I LOVE that the recipe only has 3 essential ingredients. I think I’ll make this tonight and share it as a late night snack with my teens. One of them graduates from high school tomorrow! How many late night chats to I have left? 

P.S. — More dessert for two recipes, including the easiest chocolate mousse you’ll ever make.


Credits: Recipe and photos by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom.