Rose Buttermilk Panna Cotta & Drunken Rhubarb

June 12, 2024

Overall, Panna Cotta must be one of the best desserts to experiment with! It is a very easy dish to prepare (although it doesn’t look it) and you can make it ahead of time, which is fantastic when you have guests to deal with. It also has a great shelf life – some sources mentioned 10 days, although that sounds a bit optimistic! 😉 It is just so versatile! Once you have found a good base recipe, you can customise it to your taste, either by adding: fruits (passion fruit, strawberry…), flowers (rose, lavender, chamomile…), herbs (basil, rosemary…) or spices (cardamom, cinnamon, star anis…); steep the cream with tea bags (matcha, earl grey…) or exchange the milk with yoghurt, buttermilk or even soft goat cheese – the possibilities are endless!!!

My newest creation is a romantic dream of a panna cotta, with a floral accent suffusing the cooked cream, tinged with the beautiful rose colour of the Drunken Rhubarb – perfect for a date night but don’t exclude it for dinner parties!!! It does truly have the wow effect! I’ve exchanged the milk for buttermilk which creates such a wonderful creaminess in spite of the fact that buttermilk contains fewer calories and less fat than milk – read why further down! The cream is infused with cardamom pods and rose water. The rhubarb is poached in a vanilla sparkling wine syrup. It’s just a gorgeous flavour combination!

Tips / Variations:

  • Leave out the cardamom.
  • See what quantity of rose water you want to add as the intensity varies depending on the brand you are using. 
  • Exchange the buttermilk with greek yoghurt or milk. This will change the consistency and taste of the panna cotta but will still taste amazing!
  • Use strawberries instead of rhubarb.

Buttermilk in Baking/Cooking

Traditional buttermilk is the byproduct of churning cream into butter. Though the buttermilk you buy today is usually cultured (beneficial bacterias have been added to it), as well as being pasteurised and homogenised. In Indian culture it is often drunk after a meal as it helps to wash down the spicy and oily food and soothes the lining of the stomach. It also cools down the body temperature, great when experiencing hot flushes. 

The lactic-acid-producing bacteria (cultured) that is added to the buttermilk increases the acidity, thereby preventing unwanted bacterial growth and increasing the product’s shelf life. The bacteria also ferments lactose which results in its slightly sour taste. The beautiful thing about this increased acidity is seen when used in cooking: 

  • In combination with baking powder or bicarbonate of soda, it will create tiny bubbles which will make the texture of your breads, cakes, biscuits and pancakes fluffier and lighter.
  • Marinading meat such as chicken or pork in buttermilk will help to tenderise it.
  • The lactic acid in the buttermilk decreases the ph, thereby causing it to curdle. Therefore the texture of a buttermilk panna cotta will be creamier and thicker than when using milk.

Mores Desserts Please!

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