Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Strawberry Balsamic Rhubarb Compote

I’m so excited to have Vijay from NoshOnIt guest posting here today. If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to click on over and sign up for one (or all) of NoshOnIt’s daily newsletters. Each day of the week has a dedicated theme, and brings you a carefully curated recipe PLUS a fantastic cooking tip ranging from technique to kitchen hacks to ingredient spotlights and more. Even better for the gluten-free crowd, every Sunday brings a new gluten-free recipe from a wide array of bloggers (including yours truly)! How awesome is that?

Now let me turns things over to Vijay, with his fantastic, summery recipe for Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Strawberry Balsamic Rhubarb Compote — doesn’t it just look and sound superb?! (I know what I’m making for someone’s birthday!)

buttermilk panna cotta with strawberry balsamic rhubarb compote

Hi everybody! My name is Vijay and I’m the “Chief Nosher” over at NoshOnIt, a daily email newsletter inspiring you to cook better each and every day with hand-picked recipes and expert cooking tips from amazing bloggers like Heather. I’m so happy to be guest posting over here today with a recipe that sounds complicated but is actually really easy.

I have to admit to you though, I’m not much of a dessert person. Trust me, I can scarf down a few cookies or a piece of cake like the best of them, but when it comes to being in the kitchen, I’m definitely more of an “on the stove” vs. “in the oven” kind of guy. Whenever I have friends over for dinner, I tend to put most of my efforts on the savory dishes and often struggle with a dessert that is delicious, homemade, and easy that I can make ahead…this panna cotta is exactly that! Panna cotta, or “cooked milk,” is a simple custard thickened with gelatin and flavored with whatever your palate desires. In mine, I use buttermilk in addition to cream for a bit of tang and add a healthy dose of lemon zest and fresh vanilla bean for added flavor. Then, I top it all off with a delicious and quick compote using strawberries and rhubarb. By making these in Mason jars, you can just keep them in the fridge until it’s time for dessert.


If you’ve never worked with rhubarb before, there’s nothing to be scared of. These reddish-green stalks just scream springtime and are actually really easy to use. When you first hold them, they feel (and kind of look) like celery but when cooked down, they have a pleasantly tart flavor that pairs perfectly with strawberries. Some people say you need to peel them because of the fibrous exterior, some people prefer not to, it’s really up to you. Since I wanted to have a smoother consistency to my compote, I peeled mine for this recipe. Just use the edge of a paring knife (or your nail) at the edge and you’ll be able to easily pull of long strands. Then, just chop and use!

Strawberry Balsamic Rhubarb Compote

I knew I didn’t want this to be any average compote though you can’t go wrong with just fruit, sugar, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Since strawberries and balsamic pair so beautifully together, I added a few teaspoons of a good aged balsamic vinegar to give the compote some extra depth. This does make a good amount of compote but it keeps well in the fridge so save yourself a couple of bucks on jam next time you’re at the store and just spread this on your toast instead. Your breakfast will thank you.

buttermilk panna cotta with strawberry balsamic rhubarb compote

The thing I love about this dessert the most though, is that it’s an absolute showstopper…that can be made completely ahead of time! You can easily make this 1-2 days ahead of time and then just pop them out of the fridge, remove the lid, and serve right away. No fuss, easy clean-up, and impressive, leaving you plenty of time to mingle with your guests. If you have extra, I bet a jar would make a pretty tasty breakfast with some of Heather’s Muesli Granola.

Thanks again to Heather for having me and I hope you enjoy this recipe! As you start thinking about your summer warm-weather parties, give this panna cotta a shot. Happy noshin’ everybody and I hope you’ll come say hello over on NoshOnIt!

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Strawberry Balsamic Rhubarb Compote

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Chilling Time: 4 hours
Yield: 6 servings


For the panna cotta:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (a little more than 1 packet)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk

For the compote:

  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into large dice
  • 1 cup rhubarb, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar


Make the panna cotta:

In a small bowl, pour the water then sprinkle the gelatin powder on top evenly. Allow the gelatin to soften for 15 minutes. The mixture will look like a gummy paste.

In a saucepan, add the cream. Using the back of a knife, scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and add to the cream. Drop the scraped vanilla bean to the cream as well. Add the lemon zest and sugar and bring just to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, add the gelatin mixture and whisk until completely dissolved. Add the buttermilk and whisk to combine.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and fill 8-ounce Mason jars (or ramekins) 3/4 of the way full. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight until set.

Make the compote:

In a saucepan, add 1 cup strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb has broken down and mixture resembles a thin jam. Remove from the heat, taste for sweetness and add sugar 1 teaspoon at a time if needed. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup strawberries, allow to cool, and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Remove the panna cotta from the fridge and top with 2-3 tablespoons of the compote. Place back in the fridge until ready to serve.

Vijay Nathan is the Editor and “Chief Nosher” at NoshOnIt. You can sign up for their newsletters here and find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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  • Reply
    Vijay - Editor @ NoshOn.It
    May 17, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Thanks so much for having me Heather!

    • Reply
      Heather Sage
      May 24, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      The pleasure is all mine, Vijay — such a great dessert recipe to kick off summer!

    Leave a Reply to Heather Sage Cancel Reply

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