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Yogurt Panna Cotta

As much as Valentine’s Day is know for its decadent and indulgent desserts, I still like something light after a delicious meal. Heck, I’m not averse to a light dessert at any time, since I am much more likely to have room to fit it in. Panna cotta is often regarded as a light dessert, in the sense that it is incredibly delicate and really melts away in your mouth, leaving you without feeling overly full or as though you have eaten something heavy. It is a lightly cooked cream, sometimes with added flavorings, that is set with gelatin. As you might imagine, this literally light-weight dessert is not very “light” on fat or calories. A good panna cotta is definitely worth the indulgence from time to time, but the dessert is so simple to make that it seems a shame to have to limit its appearance at the table.

I have tried a few times before to make yogurt panna cottas with only limited success. I like to use the thick, Greek-style yogurt and while every effort was tasty, they did not always have the light mouth feel and delicate consistency of the cream version. Adding buttermilk to thin the yogurt kept a delicious tang in the panna cotta even after sweetening it slightly with sugar. The resulting panna cotta was smooth, slightly tangy and incredibly good. It was still a bit thicker than an ordinary panna cotta, but that isn’t surprising since I was working with a thicker medium. I really loved this dessert.My panna cotta is pictured with a blood orange sauce that came about after experimenting with different types of fruit curds. Since it was actually a mistake, I don’t really have a recipe for it. I recommend serving the panna cotta with a raspberry puree or simply with some fresh fruit. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Yogurt Panna Cotta
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt (I used nonfat)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 tsp gelatin
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together yogurt and buttermilk.
In a small bowl, combine gelatin and water. Microwave gelatin and water for about 30-45 seconds, until gelatin is melted. Stir in sugar and vanilla.
Whisk gelatin mixture thoroughly into yogurt. Divide into four very lightly greased ramekins and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours.
To unmold, dip ramekins in very hot water for a few seconds and invert on to plates.
Serves 4.

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  • Anonymous
    February 14, 2006

    Happy Valentines Nic, your panna cotta looks delicious. I see little specks of pepper like dots, are those vanilla bean specks?


  • Ana
    February 14, 2006

    You will not believe it, but I also made Yogurt Panna Cotta (although a lightly different recipe) for our Valentine’s Dinner as dessert!!
    I love creamy desserts and panna cotta is one of my favorites!
    Yours look great Nic!

  • Luisa
    February 14, 2006

    that looks so delicious and quivery and lovely! And i love the idea of sour/bitter blood oranges against the creamy yogurt taste. Will have to make this. Thanks!

  • Nic
    February 14, 2006

    John – Yes, they are vanilla bean specks!

    Ana – I know I’ve said it before, but great minds…

    Luisa – Actually, blood oranges are very sweet, so the sauce set off the slight tartness in the yogurt, not the other way around.

  • Clare Eats
    February 14, 2006

    I think I might make this tonight for my boy…. 🙂

  • Tania
    February 14, 2006

    Mmm … these sound light, delicious and not-too-sweet! I’ve never tried making panna cotta, although I’ve certainly enjoyed eating my share. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  • Joe
    February 14, 2006

    Hi Nic!

    I’ve never made Panna Cotta before, but it looks like something we will have to tackle soon! Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • Alice
    February 15, 2006

    It looks so nice, Nic! I will mark this as one to try!

  • Anonymous
    February 15, 2006

    I’ve never tasted this before.It looks great.

  • Tokyoastrogirl
    February 15, 2006

    This looks delicious. Did you use sweetened Greek Yogurt or plain? Also, did you use low fat buttermilk?



  • Nic
    February 15, 2006

    I used plain (unsweetened) yogurt and low fat buttermilk. I believe that the vast majortiy of buttermilk is low fat.

  • michelle
    February 15, 2006

    Hi Nic! I love it when you do healthy treats, because I know I can count on them to be tasty too when they come from you as the source! Thanks, and please keep it up!

  • Ilona
    February 18, 2006

    It looks delicious. But is there another word for ‘buttermilk’?
    I live in Holland and I’m not sure what kind of milk you mean.
    Thanx and keep up posting this great recipes.

  • Nic
    February 19, 2006

    Ilona – I don’t know if there is another name, but I would put money on it. It’s the liquid left over from the butter-making process. Try adding 1 tbsp to 1 cup of milk if you cannot find it.

  • Libby
    December 1, 2009

    Hi, is there a substitute for gelatin? I can’t seem to find any where I live.

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