cacao and buttermilk pannacotta

When Pepe Saya himself delivered a bottle of his cultured buttermilk to my door recently, I knew I couldn’t go the predictable pancakes route. Yes, buttermilk, the leftover whey from making churned cultured butter, makes pancakes as light as anything and adds a lovely sour note as well, but I had better ideas. I’ve used buttermilk in dressing before, and again there’s that slightly tart note, a savoury zing that isn’t as strong as yoghurt. But being heavy on the health lately, with a new babe in arms (Jack is 10 weeks tomorrow, somehow), I wanted to do a sweet but healthy something that offers a post-dinner chocolate hit, but that can just as easily be eaten for breakfast. So, I arrived at these wobbly numbers. I use grass fed gelatin (great for my joints, inflammation, other clever things), and cacao instead of cocoa. And, instead of adding cream to the panna cotta and weight to my hips, I used a mixture of Pepe Saya buttermilk and my homemade almond milk, which I make without sugar.

My Instagram friends urged me to pop the recipe up, so here it is for them, and you. Make these a day ahead for best results. These are not super sweet – add more sugar if you like, and I prefer rapadura as I find it less processed and more flavoursome.


  • 1/3 cup warm water

  • 3 tsp grass-fed powdered gelatine

  • 2 cups almond milk

  • 1/3 cup rapadura or caster sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

  • 2 tbsp cacao

  • 2 cups buttermilk

  1. Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle over gelatine, whisk lightly with a fork and set aside 5 minutes.

  2. Combine almond milk, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat. Remove from heat, whisk in the cocao with a fork until thickened slightly. Add the gelatine and stir to combine. Stir in the buttermilk.

  3. Divide the mixture between 6 x 180ml tins or ramekins and refrigerate 4 hours until completely set. You may need to run ramekins under hot water for 5 seconds to loosen and turn out onto small plates or pretty bowls. Makes 6.