Food + Wine

Buttermilk Mascarpone Panna Cotta with Brown Butter Cranberry Compote and Gingersnap Crumble

Gosh, that’s a lot of words.

In hurry.  No time for Chatty Abbey.  Must get this out there before too late.  No time to waste!

This is my newest dessert creation and what I’ll be serving Christmas Eve.  Panna cotta, as you may well know, is an Italian molded dessert made from sweetened and gelatin-thickened milk and cream.  So it’s kinda like a very firm pudding/custard.  And I chose to make it more interesting by adding buttermilk and mascarpone…  It just adds a slight element of tang to an otherwise rich dessert. Then to top it off, I chose to make a cranberry-orange compote and then fold in some brown butter (because brown butter = always a winner). And adding some crumbled gingersnap cookies just brings everything together, and gives such a perfect textural component to the dish.

This dessert is INSANE!!!!  It’s just sweet enough, with some lovely savory notes to make you keep coming back for more.  It takes no time at all to make and if you’re like me and running behind while also looking for something fun and different this year… this is what you’re making.

Do it.




makes about 12 servings, but depends on mold size

. p a n n a  c o t t a .

In a small bowl, combine the following…

  • 2 envelopes plain, unflavored gelatin 
  • 1/2 cup (full fat) buttermilk

Stir together and allow to sit and the gelatin to soften while you prepare the other components.

In a medium saucepan, combine the following…

  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese (can substitute cream cheese if you can’t find/don’t have mascarpone)
  • 2 cups /1 pint heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

The mascarpone will melt and whisk into the cream/milk when heat is added.  Place over medium heat and begin to heat, whisking throughout so there are no lumps.

Let the mixture come up to a boil. Turn off the heat.


  • good splash of vanilla extract

And stir in your softened gelatin/buttermilk mixture.

Stir well to incorporate fully, making sure there are no lumps.

Pour into ramekins of desired serving size (mine are around 4 oz).

Let them cool for about 30 minutes before transferring to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

They will be completely firm when they’re ready.

To plate, take a butter knife and run around the edges of each ramekin and invert onto a serving dish.

Tap onto the bottom to release it onto the plate and gently pull the ramekin off.

Top with some of the Brown Butter Cranberry Compote (recipe follows)

And some crumbled gingersnap cookies, if desired.

And an orange twist never hurt anyone.



. b r o w n  b u t t e r  c r a n b e r r y  c o m p o te .

In a medium saucepan, combine the following…

  • 1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 TB light brown sugar
  • the zest and juice of 1 navel orange
  • pinch ground allspice
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup water

Allow this to come to a boil and continue to boil for about 5 minutes until the berries pop and it thickens.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, melt, then brown…

  • 4 TB unsalted butter

You want it to melt, then bubble and foam, and then once the noises and bubbles stop, you have brown butter.

Stir this into your cranberry mixture.

It should be very thick now.

Stir in…

  • the juice of 1 lemon

Allow this to cool to room temperature before transferring to the fridge to cool down completely with the panna cotta.

Everything should be chilled before serving.

Thanks for reading, y’all. Much love and Merry Holidays. xo

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