Buttermilk, Vanilla, Strawberries and Black Pepper

You must be thinking… “Black pepper? Did she make a mistake?”. That’s what I thought a few years ago when I heard that the strawberries I was eating with my vanilla ice cream had a pinch of fine ground pepper. I noticed something different, something that was making the entire dessert more potent but I would have never guessed that it was black pepper. I cannot explain what it is about it but it just enhances the flavor of the strawberries perfectly. Juxtaposition. Just like salt enhances dark chocolate or lemon enhances white chocolate.

Panna cotta is one of the simplest desserts to make. All you need is to do is heat some sweetened cream and add a bit of gelatin to it. Simple, creamy and delicious. I remember the first time I tried it at an Italian restaurant in Bilbao, Don Angelo’s. I liked it just for the name, panna cotta. Sounded so fabulous! I used to go there a lot with my university friends and I always ordered their panna cotta for dessert. It was plated almost like a flan with fresh fruit on the side.

This recipe will be my entry for Strawberry Seduction hosted by Mike’s Table. I will also submit the strawberry and rhubarb tart I made last month. I have been baking with strawberries a lot lately!

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
2 sheets of gelatin
1/2 cup buttermilk

In a small saucepan, boil the cream, sugar and vanilla bean. Remove pan from the heat once it comes to a boil. Remove the vanilla bean and safe for another use. In the meantime, softened the gelatin sheets in ice water for 5 minutes. Squeeze out any excess water from the gelatin and add it to the hot cream. Whisk so the gelatin dissolves well.

Let this mixture cool a little bit because if we were to add the buttermilk to the hot cream, the buttermilk would break. Once the cream is cool to the touch, add the buttermilk, stir and pour this mixture into your cups. Refrigerate for about 2 hours until gelatin sets well and is chilled.

Macerated Strawberry Salad

1 cup strawberries, small dice
2 Tbs sugar
pinch of finely ground black pepper

Mix the small dice strawberries with the sugar. Let this mixture sit at room temperature so the strawberries start to release some of their juice and they start to make a syrup with the sugar.

Spoon the strawberries on top of the chilled panna cotta. Sprinkle a tiny bit of black pepper on top of the strawberries and serve.

Try it and let me know what you think!

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27 Responses to “Buttermilk, Vanilla, Strawberries and Black Pepper”

  1. Ann says:

    Love black pepper with strawberries (and melon, too!. Great-looking dessert!

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi Aran,
    We received the lemon-olive oil madeleines late yesterday and they are FABULOUS!!!! Thank you so much. Everyone’s enjoying them.


  3. Veron says:

    Love pana cotta. Strawberries are very adaptable fruits. We use them in salad and it taste great with balsamic and some black pepper…so I can see how this works. Beautiful!

  4. M says:

    I will try this one day. It looks great & seems like it tastes amazing.
    I guess you can do that with other berries if there’s no strawberries?
    And how many servings are in your recipe?

  5. Aran says:

    Thanks everyone!

    Ann- yes, melon is wonderful with pepper… and serrano ham!!!

    veron- strawberries and balsamic… heaven!

    M- yes you can use any other berry but strawberries are particularly good with pepper. Raspberries too but I’m not sure about blueberries or blackberries. Also, this recipe makes about 4 servings but depends on how big your glasses or cups are. I made six mini glasses.

  6. Mobula says:

    Hola Aran!!!

    No sé si te molestará pero te escribo en español porque me es más fácil y rápido hacerlo.

    He descubierto tu blog y quiero decirte que me encanta. No se encuentran blogs de esta calidad, desafortunadamente en España. Las recetas se ven deliciosas y las fotografías son preciosas.

    Yo vivo en Gran Canaria.

    Espero visitarte muy a menudo para que sigas sorprendiendome con tus recetas.



  7. You’ve got me wishing it was strawberry season over here! I would never think to use buttermilk in a panna cotta, very original.

  8. That looks delicious! All i got to do now is buy some strawberries!

  9. linda says:

    Yummy! Never made panna cotta, still on my to-do list. Like mevrouw cupcake says, wish it was strawberry season ove here. They are available but not very sweet.

  10. MiKel says:

    Pues yo tb te escribo en español y llego desde el blog de mobula..
    No conocía tu blog pero te aseguro que va a mis favoritos derecho..
    enhorabuena por el blog…


  11. Black pepper is fantastic with strawberries!!! Like salt in caramel and the others you mentioned!!!

    This looks fantastic as usual and am a big fan of anything that might resemble custardy desserts, I’ll definitely be trying this one!!

  12. This looks wonderful! I adore panna cotta! It is truly one of my weaknesses. Great job, yet again!

  13. Tartelette says:

    I love strawberries and cracked black pepper with a touch of mint. Excellent. Panna cotta is one of my favorite desserts to make and eat, so simple and delicious too. Lovely…makes you think you are eating healthy-calorie free-air!

  14. Tartelette says:

    Forgot to add that we got the madeleines yesterday…and they are gone! Thank you!

  15. Cakespy says:

    I add pepper to everything–toast, chocolate, ice cream. I am not kidding! This one sounds RIGHT up my alley!

  16. bepoº says:

    pues otro navarrico que cae…
    y te agrega a f/f…

    que buena pinta todo¡¡¡¡

  17. Y says:

    Aran, I LOVE buttermilk and buttermilk pannacotta. The tanginess and lightness somehow makes it feel like you’re eating less cream than you actually are :D Love the pairing with the peppered strawberries too.

    Great pictures, by the way.

  18. pea says:

    hello aran. thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. i absolutely love buttermilk panna cotta served with fruit and i am always sneaking pepper into desserts when no one is looking. they look so sweet in those glasses…

  19. Christine says:

    Out of this world! I loved the panna cotta! Made it today with the strawberries and going to have it again with blueberries! Thank you so much!

  20. Lovely, lovely. I have not tried nor made panna cotta but it is on my to do list for this year! I have no doubt those strawberries are delicious. I have had strawberries with a splash of lime juice, splash of balsamic and some sugar. Delish!

  21. DoughGirl says:

    I would never have thought to add pepper to strawberries…I’ll have to give that a try next time I have some. Your panna cotta looks absolutely delicious…just beautiful!

  22. Anonymous says:

    mmmmmmmm…. I´ve just eaten a pastry cake at your mum´s place. It was delicious.
    Congratulations for your blog. You´ll have to publish your recipes in other languages. I´m sure people will appreciate it.
    Good luck

  23. Hello Aran,
    I saw your gorgeous photos in Mike’s round-up and hopped over. I’m so glad I did–you have a truly lovely blog. Have have we not met before? Cheers,

  24. B says:

    Panna Cotta in Don Angelo? It was also my first “Italian” restaurant ever, although the panna cotta was a little bit “too wild”back in those days! Love the strawerries, and they’re finally coming to Europe (the wild ones, which are so tasteful as many of the all-season ones are a bit tasteless)

  25. Llevo ya no se cuanto tiempo buceando por tu blog, porque al principio me fascinaron tus fotografías, pero esque después he alucinado con las recetas!! menudo descubrimiento!!!

    Saludos desde Madrid

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