Buttermilk Panacotta with rhubarb

Buttermilk Panacotta 1


Apologies to all my dear subscribers for the lack of a post last week –  I was swimming in Newry in the Ulster Masters – once you are over 19 years you qualify for Masters events! Oh to be 19 again! Swimming is something I did when I was a kid, thanks to my parents but I gave it up when I was 16 (over the hill in the swimming world!). I took it up again after watching the last Olympics when I was just past my 50th birthday and having a bit of a mid-life crisis. From initially swimming 3 times a week to relieve stress and get fit, I now swim / train 5 or 6 times a week and will be swimming in the European Masters Championships in the Olympic Pool in London at the end of May. So my life is all train, eat, sleep and work at the moment so forgive me if new posts are a little erratic in the next few weeks. In my wildest dreams would I have thought I would ever be able to do this and yes I am terrified but also excited. I haven’t done this on my own though – it has  all been made  possible by the inspirational Tony Morris who runs daily swimming sessions in Belvedere College in Dublin every weekday morning at 7am. Tony is a legend in terms of Irish, European and World Masters swimming. I cannot begin to describe the positive way that he, his wife Coilne and the people I have met at these sessions have enhanced my life in the last few years. Every morning people of all ages and from all walks of life come to his swim sessions, there is no status or hierarchy just a common interest in swimming, a bit of chat and crack which over time becomes quite addictive. So don’t let age hold you back, keep learning new things, challenge yourself, widen your horizons and you too will enhance your life and amaze yourself.

Anyway this week’s recipe is one I love. I sometimes find panacotta too sweet but the buttermilk in this recipe gives it a lovely depth of flavour which is not too sweet. Rhubarb is coming into season now but you could use any fruit. I also prefer using gelatine leaves (available in nearly all supermarkets) to the powder but you can use either.

Serves 6/8

4 gelatine leaves or 1 sachet of gelatine powder
400ml double cream
200ml buttermilk
85g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod (split in half with seeds scraped out)

You will need approx. 8 mini-glasses (like the ones I used in the photo) or 6 larger ones.

Poached Rhubarb

450g rhubarb washed, trimmed and cut into small evenly sized pieces. Halve any large pieces.
4oz/110g caster or soft brown sugar

  • Put the rhubarb in a pan with sugar and heat gently, covered, until tender.
  • Stir carefully so as not to break up the rhubarb pieces.
  • Taste for sweetness, adding more sugar if necessary.
  • Allow to cool and carefully spoon divide it between glasses


  • If using gelatine leaves, put them into a bowl of cold water and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
  • Put the cream, buttermilk, caster sugar and scraped-out vanilla seeds into a saucepan and slowly bring up to the boil.
  • Take the pan off the heat, gently squeeze the soaked gelatine leaves dry and add to the pan or, if using powder, whisk into the liquid in a continuous stream. Then whisk continuously until the gelatine has dissolved.
  • Strain the mixture into a measuring jug.
  • Carefully and gently pour the panacotta mixture over the rhubarb mixture in each glass so as not to disturb the rhubarb too much.
  • Place the glasses in the fridge for 3-4 hours to set.

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