Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Roasted Huckleberries

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Roasted Huckleberries
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About This Recipe

In the picturesque Napa Valley, where the culinary scene is as rich and diverse as its vineyards, the Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Roasted Huckleberries is a dessert that beautifully captures the essence of the region. This dish is a testament to Napa's commitment to using fresh, local ingredients and creating flavors that are both sophisticated and comforting.

The preparation of this dessert is a delightful process, beginning with the silky buttermilk panna cotta. Combining buttermilk with heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract creates a mixture that is both rich and tangy. The key to achieving the perfect set for the panna cotta is the proper use of gelatin, bloomed in cold water and then melted into the warm cream mixture. This mixture is then gently poured into individual ramekins and chilled until set, resulting in a dessert that is luxuriously smooth and creamy.

The roasted huckleberries, an integral component of this dish, bring a burst of vibrant flavor. Tossing the berries in honey and lemon zest before roasting enhances their natural sweetness and adds a lovely citrus note. When roasted, the huckleberries become juicy and jam-like, making them the perfect topping for the delicate panna cotta.

Pairing this dessert with the right wine elevates it to a new level of gastronomic delight. A glass of Chateau Montelena Riesling, an excellent example of Napa Valley Riesling, complements the dessert wonderfully. The wine's bright acidity and fruity notes harmonize with both the creaminess of the panna cotta and the tanginess of the huckleberries.

Alternatively, for those who enjoy a sweeter wine pairing, a Dolce Late Harvest, a superb Napa Valley Late Harvest wine, would be an exquisite choice. This wine's rich flavors and sweetness pair beautifully with the creamy, tangy profile of the dessert, creating a harmonious balance on the palate.

When considering a full menu, this buttermilk panna cotta with roasted huckleberries works well as a follow-up to a meal that features lighter, savory dishes. It could be preceded by a simple, fresh salad and a main course of grilled fish or roasted chicken. The lightness of these dishes would pave the way for the creamy richness of the panna cotta, creating a well-rounded dining experience.

Serving this dessert is not just about ending a meal on a sweet note; it’s about offering a taste of Napa Valley's culinary finesse. The Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Roasted Huckleberries, paired with a glass of fine Napa Valley wine, is a celebration of the region's rich culinary heritage and its dedication to creating dishes that are as visually appealing as they are delicious. It's a fitting tribute to the valley's reputation as a haven for food and wine lovers.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Buttermilk

Buttermilk, the key ingredient in Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Roasted Huckleberries, holds a special place in Napa Valley cuisine. This tangy, creamy liquid, a byproduct of butter making, is revered for its ability to add a rich depth of flavor and tender texture to dishes. In this recipe, buttermilk transforms the traditional panna cotta into a refreshingly tangy, yet creamy dessert, perfectly complementing the sweet and tart notes of the roasted huckleberries.

How to Achieve the Perfect Panna Cotta Set

  1. Bloom the Gelatin Properly: Sprinkle the gelatin powder over cold water and let it sit for a few minutes to 'bloom'. This ensures it dissolves evenly without lumps.
  2. Gently Warm the Cream Mixture: Heat the cream and sugar mixture just until the sugar dissolves. Do not boil.
  3. Incorporate Gelatin Correctly: Once bloomed, add the gelatin to the warm cream mixture and stir until fully dissolved.
  4. Cool Before Adding Buttermilk: Let the mixture cool slightly before whisking in the buttermilk to prevent curdling.
  5. Chill to Set: Pour the mixture into ramekins and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to set properly.


  1. Can I use a substitute for huckleberries? Yes, blueberries or blackberries make great substitutes for huckleberries.
  2. How long does panna cotta take to set in the fridge? Panna cotta typically sets in about 4 hours, but it can be left overnight for best results.
  3. Is there a dairy-free alternative to buttermilk? You can use coconut milk with a little lemon juice as a dairy-free alternative.
  4. Can this dessert be made in advance? Absolutely, panna cotta is an excellent make-ahead dessert and can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
  5. How do I unmold the panna cotta from the ramekins? Briefly dip the bottom of the ramekins in warm water and then invert onto a plate.

Tips for Success

  1. Use High-Quality Buttermilk: The quality of buttermilk greatly influences the flavor of the panna cotta, so choose a good brand.
  2. Gentle Roasting of Huckleberries: Roast the huckleberries just until they burst to release their juices and flavors.
  3. Presentation Matters: Garnish the panna cotta with fresh mint or lemon zest for a visually appealing and flavorful finish.

Following these tips and techniques will help you create a Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Roasted Huckleberries that captures the essence of Napa Valley's sophisticated yet homely flavors, making it a delightful treat for any occasion.

Recipe Overview

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Roasted Huckleberries
Lily Anderson
6 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 tsp gelatin powder
  • 3 tbsp cold water
  • 2 cups huckleberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Prepare Panna Cotta Mixture: In a saucepan, combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
  2. Bloom Gelatin: Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a bowl. Let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. Then, add it to the warm cream mixture, stirring until fully dissolved.
  3. Combine with Buttermilk: Let the cream mixture cool slightly, then whisk in the buttermilk.
  4. Set the Panna Cotta: Pour the mixture into 6 ramekins. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or until set.
  5. Roast Huckleberries: Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss huckleberries with honey and lemon zest. Roast for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Serve: Unmold the panna cotta onto plates and top with roasted huckleberries.

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Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

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