All in a name…

Sweetbreads sounds so much better than thymus glands. Escargot sounds better than snails. Rocky Mountain Oysters sounds better than testicles.
It’s all in the marketing really. I mean, I am quite sure that panna cotta would not be as popular as it is, if it were called Cream Jello. Which is what it is essentially. Sugar, cream, gelatin…panna cotta. Sounds like Cream Jello to me. :)
But we don’t call it that, and plenty of people eat it, including me. In my quest for finding Pacific Northwest foods for my other blog, I ran across a recipe for Buttermilk Panna Cotta. Needing to use up my soon to expire buttermilk I gave it a go. The original recipe does not use honey or dried cherries and throws in poppy seeds. They also use a fresh fruit compote as well. I’m sure it is nice but I didn’t have any spare fruit lying around.
Been super busy, will write about that later. This dessert was enjoyed with these lovely chilled mussels. Together they made and excellent Pacific Northwest lunch.

Buttermilk-Honey Panna Cotta with Dried Cherries

1 envelope(about 2 tsp) unflavored gelatin
2 TBSP warm water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups buttermilk
½ cup sugar
½  cup honey, divided
½ cup dried cherries

Sprinkle gelatin over the water in a large heatproof bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Whisk in the cream, buttermilk, and sugar and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until smooth and the sugar is melted. Whisk in ¼ cup honey.
Evenly distribute dried cherries among 6 small custard dishes. Pour remaining ¼ cup of honey evenly among the 6 dishes. Pour the panna cotta mixture evenly into the 6 dishes. Wrap each one with plastic wrap(don’t let it touch the panna cotta). Refrigerated overnight, or a minimum of 12 hours.
One at a time, place each ramekin of panna cotta in a shallow bowl of very hot water-to ½ inch from the top-for a count of about 10 seconds. Remove, run a knife around the outside, then unmold the panna cotta onto individual dessert plates.  Serve immediately.

Adapted from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table by Kathy Casey



  1. i love panna cotta and the buttermilk is such a great addition… I always make mine with buttermilk or yogurt too. And yes, it sounds better than cream jello but it doesn’t matter because once you have had it… that’s the end of it.

  2. The secret is out! It’s just jello… I’ve never been a huge fan of panna cotta, put then again, I wouldn’t refuse it if it was put in front of me, it just wouldn’t be my first choice. Berries make it much more appealing.

  3. I have been meaning to make and try this. I am not sure it sounds quite as exciting now that I know it is just jello!

  4. I’m curious how strong the buttermilk flavour is in this recipe? I tried buttermilk panna cotta recently but with fewer ingredients, and I ended up throwing the lot of it away because it was too much like drinking straight buttermilk.

  5. You’re absolutely right – if people actually knew what they were eating when they read “Rocky Mountain Oysters” on a menu or something, they’d probably think twice about their meal decision ;0)

    The Buttermilk-Honey Panna Cotta looks great – ESPECIALLY with the dried cherries!! Never would have thought of adding buttermilk to a panna cotta dessert.

  6. bettina says:

    mmmm i’m salivating

  7. That looks really good! Does the buttermilk give it a more cheesecake like flavor? I had the most fabulous Panna Cotta ever at Craft last year and want to recreate it. It had a beautiful cheesecake like flavor and I haven’t been able to figure out the secret ingredient.

  8. I love Panna-cotta but you’re right I don’t think Cream Jello would be such a big hit!

  9. I could not agree with you more – it is all about marketing. I often look at menus in restaurants and when you get your meal it is so simple and actually something quite simple.
    Love the Jello – lovely stuff!!!!

  10. Please stop telling people how easy panna cotta is. You’re ruining my “spent all day in the kitchen making this” act!

  11. Lovely. Names indeed change the way we look at things!

  12. I wish my commie wife dug desserts like that ;)

  13. I’ve never had panna cotta, but it looks delicious!

  14. peabody says:

    Judith-the buttermilk flavor is definitely there. So if you are not a fan then I would skip.

  15. Oh so glad to hear the buttermilk flavor is there! Love buttermilk! Maybe this will work for Gorn instead of cherry pie ?;))
    Beautiful Peabody.

  16. A wonderful and original Panna Cotta! Delicious and refined!



  17. I have to say Peabody that after meeting you and tasting some of your culinary creations, you truly are amazing at what you do, everything comes out beautiful, aesthetics and delicious!

  18. Ah, yes, panna cotta might be cream jell-o but even jell-o made with fresh good quality juice is an epiphany compared to the crystalized product.As is so often the case, prepared foods can be the ruin of a perfectly good concept.

    Consider that before the invention of commercial gelatin that making any kind of a jellied recipe (aspic, bavarian, jelly, panna cotta, etc) took several days and incredible culinary skill.

    You do the original gelatin set desserts justice with your buttermilk version!

  19. Just stunning Peabody- I am a fan of buttermilk so will try this. Jello not a fan of, but won’t think about it as I make it.

  20. Great idea! Hilarious about the names huh? That Rocky Mountain Oyster one is my favorite – we used to joke with tourists coming through Wyoming all the time with that one. Ahhh, good times. Your Cream Jello aka Panna Cotta looks great!

  21. Your panna cotta looks beautiful.
    I do marketing names with my kids all the time… although it’s the reverse- I try to make it sound LESS sophisticated (they’re on to me, but are good sports about being my guinea pigs). So insted of involtini con pollo e pancetta, I tell them they’re having chicken bacon roll-ups. Panna cotta? Pudding. Guanciale? Well… I stuck with the Italian, let them eat it and like it and THEN answered their questions on that. Cured pig jowls does not inspire food-phobis to take a big bite.

  22. I must be the last person on earth who has never tried a panna cotta. What a delicious version, Pea.

  23. You could talk me into trying Cream Jello. Of course, everything you make is delicious, so you could convince me to try just about anything. Except the prairie oysters.

  24. Panna cotta, mmm mmm!

  25. This is the best~I can’t wait to make this!

  26. Cream jello? I’d still eat it :-)

  27. I guess I never really thought about how a name really makes a difference, but you are so right! And call it what you want, but this looks delicious!

  28. I bet this was delightful! The cream jello bit would be a seller for MIL!!

  29. Hm, I have dried cherries languishing in my cupboard, and a dinner party I need to come up with dessert for on Monday. Do the cherries re-hydrate a bit in the process?

  30. @Imogen- the cherries plum in the process


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