Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Cumquat Sauce

Panna cotta is one of life’s great delights. I love all panna cotta but this one is my favourite.

I remember the time I first tasted buttermilk panna cotta with cumquat sauce. I was at a function to publicise the release of Maggie Beer’s Maggie’s Harvest.  It was a 5 course dinner with the menu sourced from the book.  The price of the dinner included wine.  The wine waiters were a little too generous with refilling our glasses so by the time we got to dessert I was, along with my friends, more than a little intoxicated.  It was a great night.

I tasted the dessert and suddenly I felt sober.  I could not believe how good it was.  I remember turning to my friend and saying, ‘taste the dessert’.  She gave me a ‘I’m too full to have another bite’ look.  I said, ‘ no, I mean it, taste the dessert’.  It was divine.


  • 4 x 2g gelatine leaves  (I buy mine from Kitchen Warehouse.  The large supermarkets don’t seem to sell them.)
  • 400ml cream
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 250ml buttermilk (you can buy at any supermarket)

The panna cotta is best made the day before you intend to eat it.  If having it for dinner, you can get away with making it in the morning but you need to start early.  It takes a while to set.

  1. Put the cream and the caster sugar in a small saucepan and bring them almost to the boil, stirring all the while. Turn off the heat.
  2. Place the gelatine leaves in cold water for a short time to soften.
  3. Pick up the softened leaves, squeeze out the water and put them into the cream and sugar mixture.  Stir until dissolved.
  4. Pour in the buttermilk.
  5. Strain the mixture into a jug to ensure there are no lumps. It is usually clear.
  6. Pour mixture into 125mls dariole moulds and refrigerate.

I  found Maggie’s recipe for the cumquat sauce has too much cumquat for the amount of syrup so I double the syrup.  This will produce much more sauce than required (you only need a drizzle and a few pieces of cumquat for each plate).  Pour the left over sauce into a sterilised jar and keep it in the fridge.  It will  last for ages.  Next time you make the dessert (or feel like some syrup on your icecream or yoghurt) , you will already have the sauce. Alternatively, halve the recipe.


  • 600g cumquats
  • 1 litre of water
  • 800g caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  1. Slice the cumquats finely and discard the seeds.
  2. Combine the cumquats, water, caster sugar and cinnamon, bring to the boil and simmer for an hour or so until  the cumquats have nicely softened and the syrup has thickened.
  3. Discard the cinnamon stick.

When serving, boil the kettle and put some water in a bowl. Pick up a dariole mould with your finger tips and dunk in the water for about 5 seconds (not too long or else the panna cotta will start to melt).  Turn out onto a plate.  If it doesn’t come out at first, gently ply it out with the tip of a butter knife. Spoon over the cumquat sauce, ensuring each plate has a few of the cumquat pieces.

Panna cotta is best when it is soft and wobbly.  I have made this recipe with powdered gelatine but found the resultant panna cotta too firm.  I used 2¼ teaspoons of powdered gelatine.  Maybe 2 teaspoons would have been better.


13 thoughts on “Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Cumquat Sauce

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  4. Hi Glenda
    Would you like a Cumquat tree?
    We bought what we thought was a lime tree and potted it in the front garden but it turned out to be a Cumquat tree. I thought at the time gee these limes are very small. Now we have been given a Patio Lime tree as a gift and have no where to put the Cumquat!! You are welcome to it, I am sure it will thrive better down there.

    • Hi Celia, I am embarrassed to admit I have all of Maggie’s books. I have loved her regional style of cooking for a very long while. ‘Maggie’s Harvest’ includes recipes from ‘Maggie’s Farm’ and ‘Maggie’s Orchard’ (so if you have them you will have some of the recipes) and new recipes. I don’t think this recipe is in any other of her books. I just love it – it is the combination of the buttermilk and the citrus that does it for me.

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