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Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Honey Caramel Sauce

Scott Phillips

Servings: 6

Not only does buttermilk add a bright flavor, but it also makes for a lighter, softer panna cotta. It’s contrasted by the rich, bittersweet caramel.


For the sauce

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. mild honey
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt

For the panna cottas

  • Cooking spray
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2-1/2 tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin (substitute vegan gelatin for a vegetarian dessert)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch table salt

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 400
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 320
  • Fat (g): 35
  • Saturated Fat (g): 22
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3
  • Cholesterol (mg): 130
  • Sodium (mg): 225
  • Carbohydrates (g): 45
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Sugar (g): 45
  • Protein (g): 5


Make the sauce

  • Attach a candy thermometer to a 2-quart heavy-duty saucepan. Add the sugar, honey, and 1/4 cup water, and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and boil vigorously without stirring until golden in spots and the candy thermometer reads 350°F, 5 to 10 minutes. As the mixture darkens in spots, swirl the pan gently to even out the color, but do not stir.
  • Once it’s completely amber-colored, lower the heat to a simmer and add the cream in a slow, thin stream, whisking vigorously. The caramel will bubble up and may harden into a lump at first; continue whisking until smooth. Simmer for 3 minutes, whisking occasionally.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Let cool to room temperature.

Make the panna cottas

  • Lightly spray six 6- to 8-oz. ramekins, small bowls, or pastry molds with cooking spray.
  • Put the cream in a 2-quart saucepan and sprinkle with the gelatin. Allow the gelatin to soften for about 5 minutes. Place the saucepan over low heat and whisk in the sugar until the gelatin and sugar are completely dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Rub a little between your fingers to check. (Avoid simmering, which destroys the gelatin’s thickening ability; if you see bubbles, remove from the heat and let it cool.)
  • Off the heat, whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla and salt.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large measuring cup and divide among the prepared ramekins. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until set, 1 to 2 hours.
  • Serve the panna cottas in their ramekins, or unmold: Moisten six serving plates with a little warm water (this makes it easier to center the panna cottas). Loosen the edges of a panna cotta with a fingertip, then slowly invert it onto a plate. Gently jiggle the ramekin side to side until the panna cotta slips out. Lift the ramekin, reposition the panna cotta on the plate, if needed, and pat the plate dry. Serve, chilled for a firm panna cotta or at room temperature for a softer one, with the sauce.

Make Ahead Tips

The sauce can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 months.

The panna cottas can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated, covered.


In response to reader feedback that this panna cotta wasn’t setting up, we increased the gelatin called for in this recipe. This will make a sturdier, more jiggly panna cotta. If you prefer yours more delicate, feel free to use just 2 tsp. Avoid fat-free buttermilk, as it may not set up as well.  



Rate or Review

Reviews (4 reviews)

  • andra12 | 09/08/2018

    I made this panacotta a few times already. The recipe is very good, but I don't think it's a good idea to tell us that we shouldn't let it simmer. If the liquid is not warm enough, the panacotta won't settle. When it gets on the warmer side, I start mixing it, to make sure it heats evenly, and I let it warm up until it reaches 135 degrees. It always works, with only the amount of gelatin specified in the original recipe.

  • littlebear | 06/05/2016

    Made this just as directed, once with the cherry sauce and once with the blueberry sauce from the original FC article. My sister who is a panna cotta fanatic rated this the best she has ever had. EVER! and demanded the recipe!!! I have made it 3 x (once using the adapted FC recipe with coconut milk for a non-dairy version) and my sister has also made it at least once - always a success, though the coconut milk version was somewhat softer.

  • lovestoeat70 | 03/27/2016

    Made this a day ahead for Easter dinner dessert. 24 hours later, it is stil not set. I definitely did not overlook the gelatin, as i gently heated it to dissolve the sugar and gelatin and never even had bubbles (I have a Viking and it was on low). Sauce is very delicious, so all is not lost. Good thing grocery stores are open on Easter as my son is on his way to buy some ice cream to go with the caramel. The Panna cottas, however, are down the drain.

  • miabella | 03/23/2016

    I made this just as directed per the magazine article.It's been two hours and the it is still just pure liquid. Are you sure the time for setting the panna cotta is correct? My refrigerator is at 36 degrees. All other recipes that I've looked at on-line say 6 hours to overnight.

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