Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Cinnamon Caramel

One of the first “fancy” desserts that I fell in love with was a crème brûlée – that vanilla custard with the burnt sugar on top was music to my mouth.  The custard was so silky smooth, I just wanted to jump right in.  Many years later, I tried my first Panna Cotta.  The texture was very similar to the crème brûlée, but the flavor was completely different.  Instead of being on the sweet side, it was a little more acetic.  In contrast to the crème brûlée, the panna cotta was stark white – it didn’t have that yellow hue that the crème brûlée had because of the egg yolks.  I also starting noticing that whenever panna cotta was on the menu, it was served with a fruit compote – which is not usually my preference.  Nevertheless, from time to time I would order it for dessert, and I was never disappointed – until one time…

We were at an Italian restaurant that was noted for being kid friendly (normally our kids do not accompany us when we go out, but this time they did) – usually when a restaurant is kid friendly, you are not heading into a mecca of fine dining, but still, we try to choose places that are at least decent.  When we got the dessert menu, I saw the Panna Cotta, and I urged my older daughter to get it – I told her she would love it, it was like a cross between yogurt and pudding.  When it arrived at the table, it looked different – almost like jello.  She took a bite, and was not pleased.  I took a bite – and it was jello – white jello.  Whoever made it put in a little too much gelatin.  It was unlike anything I had ever had before – which was a good thing.

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, and I was instantly drawn to it since it had a cinnamon caramel topping.  Also – reading through the recipe, it seemed too simple to be true.  This was my first attempt at Panna Cotta, and will definitely not be my last.  It was incredible – and the caramel sauce, OH MY.  This should be a staple for everyone when you need a quick caramel sauce – it came out perfect.  Print this out, and make it tonight – you will thank me, I promise.


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (scant) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon (generous) ground cinnamon


Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons water into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes.

Combine 3/4 cup cream and 1/3 cup sugar in heavy small saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture just begins to simmer. Remove from heat. Add gelatin; stir until gelatin dissolves. Cool until warm, stirring occasionally. Stir in buttermilk and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Divide among six 1/2-cup ramekins. Cover and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

Combine brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup cream in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and caramel sauce is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in cinnamon and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Take the panna cottas out of the refrigerator and run a thin knife around the edge.  Take a plate and put it on top of the panna cotta, then turn it over.  If it does not come out, fill a shallow dish with warm water, and let the panna cotta dish soak in it for a minute.  That should help.

Spoon slightly warm caramel sauce over each panna cotta and serve.

For a printer friendly version of this recipe, click here:  Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Cinnamon

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5 thoughts on “Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Cinnamon Caramel

  1. I wouldn’t describe Panna Cotta as anything LIKE “yogurt” or “pudding”, and i definitely wouldnt call it “acetic”. Why would it be, when theres no vinegar or lemon, or anything in it that would make it “acidic” (?) which is probably what you meant to say, but which is also, inaccurate! A good Panna Cotta DOES have a slightly jelly-ish consistency, it does after all have gelatine in it. Its a delicate, sweet jellied cream, usually with vanilla in it. That is what a classic Panna Cotta is.

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