Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Panna Cotta with Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce

The little KC kids are obsessed with jello. Like a lot of kids, the infatuation has more to do with the slip and jiggle than any particular flavor profile. I mean, when you assert preference by color, how important, really, is taste? I'm going with not very.

Given the penchant for wiggle, I thought panna cotta might be right up their alley, especially topped with a glossy bright strawberry-rhubarb sauce. And bonus, real vanilla and fresh strawberries taste so much better than red.

Disclaimer time. The original recipe calls for creme fraiche, which while picking up rhubarb and buttermilk at Whole Foods, I could have sworn was happily residing in my fridge just waiting to be called into action. Alas, when I got home, that very creme fraiche mysteriously had morphed into mascarpone! I hate when that happens. Fortunately there's almost always some Greek yogurt hanging around our house, which valiantly stood in for the mysterious traitor.
Buttermilk-Yogurt Panna Cotta with Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce
adapted from Bon Appetit 

For the Panna Cotta

1 & 1/4 tsp unflavored powdered gelatin
1 & 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 & 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 & 1/4 cups full-fat plain Greek yogurt

For the Sauce

1 & 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups rhubarb, (about 8 ounces) sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 tsp unflavored powdered gelatin

For the Panna Cotta, pour 1/4 cup of cold water into a little bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let is sit for about 10 minutes until the gelatin swells and softens.
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, and salt. Scrape the gooey seeds from the vanilla bean into the liquid, then toss in the pod too.
Bring the mixture to a simmer then add the softened gelatin mixture. Stir to dissolve all the gelatin, then remove the pan from heat and let it cool. Once cool, remove the vanilla bean pod. Whisk in the buttermilk and yogurt. Pour the mixture into small ramekins or dessert glasses. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least 2 hours.
For the sauce, combine the strawberries, rhubarb, and sugar in a medium heat-proof bowl. Toss everything together so the sugar coats the fruit.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, folding and pressing the wrap so it extends just along the top edge of the bowl. If it helps, you can wrap a large rubber band around the rim of the bowl to hold the plastic wrap in place.
Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water, careful not to let the plastic wrap touch the pot. Heat the berry-rhubarb mixture without stirring for about 45 minutes, until the rhubarb looks pale and the fruit is soft.
Use a fine sieve to strain the fruit mixture, reserving the liquid only. Don't press and push on the fruit to get more juice out or your sauce won't be nearly as lovely. Get what you can, then add water to make 1 cup total.

In a separate small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons cold water. Let it stand for 10 minutes.

While the gelatin is softening, bring the strawberry-rhubarb liquid to a boil in a small saucepan for about 3 minutes, stirring every now and then to prevent burning. Add the softened gelatin mixture and stir well to dissolve any stubborn gelatin granules. Remove from heat and let stand until completely cool.

Top the cold, set panna cotta with the cooled sauce and chill until the sauce is thickened, at least 2 hours.


  1. Yum! I want to try this. What were the kiddos' opinions of the finished product?

    1. Roo loved it...without the sauce, while the girls seemed to enjoy the sauce even more than the panna cotta. You should definitely give it a go! BTW, the strawberry-rhubarb sauce is awesome on ice cream too. Just saying.

  2. That looks so pretty & yummy - but sounds like a bit of work! Beautiful pics :)

    1. It seems I'm always willing to work hard when it comes to dessert :)