Crème Fraîche Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries and Herbs

By • May 29, 2013 • 22 Comments



Author Notes: Ever since having crème fraîche panna cotta at Gramercy Tavern with my husband, I knew I wanted to recreate it at home. Served in miniature ramekins with a dot of bright green tarragon oil and a few supremes of grapefruit on the top, the panna cottas were presented as a gift from the kitchen before our main desserts arrived. They were beautiful and so, so good -- by far the best panna cottas I’d ever had. I’m convinced that crème fraîche makes everything better.
Back at home, I went about my research to recreate this recipe. I combined my favorite elements of multiple panna cotta recipes I found online and in my cookbooks, including ones by Claudia Fleming and Tom Valenti. I also decided to use turbinado sugar instead of granulated white sugar, to amp up the flavor. My first attempt at making the panna cottas was a success -- fortuitous since I was making them for a dinner party and didn’t have a back-up plan. As a nod to the Gramercy Tavern, I chose to serve mine straight from the ramekins, topped with macerated strawberries and tarragon. They went over very well.
Any number of fruit and herb combinations would be lovely here depending on the season. A few ideas: strawberries and tarragon; blackberries and basil; raspberries and mint; and blueberries and lemon thyme. Or you could copy Gramercy Tavern and go with a combination of grapefruit and tarragon -- there's nothing wrong with that.
EmilyC

Food52 Review: Fantastic. The addition of the buttermilk and the crème fraîche (I used sour cream) to a standard panna cotta gave a great mouthfeel to the finished dish. It was smooth but not as sour or tart as I'd feared it might be, and it had a great clean finish. I used vanilla bean, which I really recommend if possible. We topped our panna cottas with macerated cherries and mint, and they were fabulous -- a great summer dessert!Ruth Kirwan

Makes six 8-ounce servings or eight 6-ounce servings

  • 1/4 ounce powdered gelatin (1 package)
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (preferably whole milk)
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh berries or fruit, hulled and sliced (see headnote for ideas)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped or torn (see headnote for ideas)
  • Sugar to taste
  1. Place 2 1/2 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin on top and let soften for 5 minutes.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the crème fraîche, heavy cream, buttermilk, turbinado sugar, and vanilla bean (if using), stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat just before the mixture reaches a simmer. Add the gelatin mixture immediately and vanilla bean paste or extract (if using in lieu of vanilla bean), whisking until the gelatin dissolves. (If using a vanilla bean, scrape remaining seeds from the bean and add them to the mixture at this time.) Strain the crème fraîche mixture through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup with a spout.
  3. Pour the mixture into eight 6-ounce ramekins, bowls, or parfait glasses (or six 8-ounce ones). Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 3 to 4 hours.
  4. About 10 minutes before serving, combine fruit and herbs in a bowl and mix in a few teaspoons of sugar. Let the sweetness of your fruit guide the amount of sugar you add. Let the fruit mixture macerate for about 5 to 10 minutes. Top each panna cotta with a spoonful of the fruit mixture, serving additional on the side if desired.
Jump to Comments (22)

Tags: blueberries, dessert, panna cotta

Comments (22) Questions (0)

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Stringio

22 days ago Rajika Basu

turned out fantastic! it's a winner recipe. thanks!!

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21 days ago EmilyC

Great to hear! Thanks for trying it!

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26 days ago btglenn

A wonderfully rich dessert for special occasions. Sunset Magazine years ago offered an every-day alternative:
for the liquids, 2 cups of buttermilk sweetened to taste, and vanilla to one packet of getatin. You absolutely need gelatin for any pannacotta.
Tastes surprisingly rich, especially when coupled with a fruit compote topping.
I"ve varied it by substituting a fruit puree (like mango) for part of the buttermilk.

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26 days ago EmilyC

Sounds good!

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27 days ago Petite fee

Awesome thank you!

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27 days ago EmilyC

You're welcome -- and if you try this with a gelatin substitute, please report back!

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28 days ago Petite fee

Beautiful...Can I use anything else in place a gelatin?

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28 days ago EmilyC

Thanks Petite fee! Here's a helpful guide on substitutes for gelatin. http://www.thekitchn.com...

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28 days ago Can I have a bite?

So glad to see this recipe! I had something very similar at the Salvation Cafe in Newport, R.I., last week and have been hoping to recreate it. I can't wait to try this.

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28 days ago EmilyC

Hope you like it!

Meg_b_f52

28 days ago meganvt01

So beautiful and looks delicious. This is on my next dinner party menu!

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28 days ago EmilyC

Thanks Megan! I really hope you enjoy it!

Moi_1

about 1 month ago QueenSashy

What a delightful recipe, I cannot wait to make it...

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about 1 month ago EmilyC

Thank you QS! I'd love to know what you think if you try it!

Moi_1

28 days ago QueenSashy

I cheated on the Gramercy Tavern combination and did grapefruit and lemon verbena. We loved them. Next will be strawberries and thyme...

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28 days ago EmilyC

These combinations sound perfect. And so glad you tried and liked the panna cotta. Thanks for circling back!

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about 1 year ago JanetFL

Another great recipe, Emily! I have a garden full of tarragon and will be trying your recipe this week. Thank you!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks Janet! I'd be thrilled if you try it! As someone with a fully shaded yard, with some potted herbs strategically placed to soak up as much direct sun as possible, I'm oh-so-envious of your garden full of tarragon! : )

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about 1 year ago JanetFL

I guess I shouldn't tell you that it comes back every year, here in cold Colorado!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Haha, no, you really shouldn't tell me that!

Junechamp

about 1 year ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

What fresh herbs do your ecommend for this? There are so many possibilities.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

I used strawberries and tarragon, and I've included a few ideas on other berry and herb combinations in the headnote. You're right, so many (delicious) possibilities!