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Blackberry Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Today is Shavuot, the Jewish holiday celebrating Moses receiving the Ten Commandments. (Even now, I picture this with Moses as Charlton Heston and God as a flaming tornado).

It's a good holiday, not least because it converges on Memorial Day weekend, and my favorite time of year, when my garden looks beautiful and I have not yet been driven inside my house by heat and mosquitoes. it's also a magical time of year when, if you are an early riser like me, you get to see a lot of baby animals- fox kits, coyote pups, fawns, and baby racoons.

Last year, one little visitor had her baby in our garden overnight. We almost tripped over this little cutie the next morning.

I also like the adorable Canada geese goslings and wild turkey chicks that waddle behind mom in a straight line, sometimes into the road, snarling traffic. You have not lived in Connecticut until you have been in a turkey jam.

My husband reported that the lady at the bakery asked how Jews celebrated this holiday, and he told her that it was normally spent studying. She gave him a gently ironic look, as if to say: "That sounds lit." It is in fact how many people observe Shavuot, and there is even an all-night study session at the local synagogue in our town for the real party animals. My husband said that there was something odd about millions of people spending thousands of years studying the same book. You'd think they'd have got it all figured out by now.

The other observance on Shavuot is to eat dairy. Traditionally, no animals could be slaughtered nor could utensils be koshered on this day, so everyone was required to eat dairy. This has now evolved into a day for eating cheesecake, ice cream, and other dairy treats.

it seemed like as good an excuse as any to make panna cotta for dessert today, since I haven't made it in a long time, and it is so easy and delicious. The only panna cotta worth eating in my opinion is buttermilk panna cotta, unless you can get your hands on goats milk. When I worked at a horse rescue years ago, the barn manager gave me the incredible gift of some fresh, unpasteurized goat's milk (straight from the goat, whose name was Bailey, BTW) . Goat milk panna cotta hits different.

I found some of those nasty Driscoll blackberries (having grown up in Quebec and spent many summer holidays in the Adirondacks I am only about wild blackberries) but once macerated with a little sugar and rum, they, and their syrup (slightly tart and very fragrant) were a delicious addition.

This recipe is super easy. It has very few ingredients, and requires no special ingredients. It's show-offy enough for guests. It's light after a heavy meal, which on Memorial Day weekend can mean a lot of BBQ for some of you.


1 package of Knox unflavored gelatin

1 1/4 cups of heavy cream

6 tbsps of sugar

1 tsp of vanilla (I did not have a vanilla pod -- I would recommend using one, scrapping out the seeds and then adding the pod, if you have one)

1 3/4 cups of buttermilk

cooking spray made from a neutral oil, such as canola oil

1 pint of blackberries

2 tsps of sugar

2 tbsps of rum (you can use any other spirit or liqueur that goes well with blackberries)


Soften gelatin in 2 tbsp. water in a medium bowl.

Heat cream and sugar into a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla.

Stir cream mixture into bowl with gelatin. Make sure there are no blobs of gelatin (you can put everything back in the saucepan and put back on low heat to dissolve if needed).

Stir in buttermilk. Strain mixture into a mixing bowl.

You can use ramekins, or teacups or very small bowls as you molds. Spray the insides of the 6 teacups with cooking spray, then pour in mixture. Cover each with plastic wrap, and set in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

In the meantime, set your berries to macerate - stir the berries with sugar and liquor and then set in a warm place so that the berries start to break down and make a little syrup (it was a cool day so I put them in the oven on its lowest temperature for an hour or two. To unmold, you can dip the bottoms of the cups in warm water, or run a knife around the inside of cups. Invert molded custard onto plates. Garnish with blackberries and their syrup.

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