Panna cotta is not a new dessert but it's something I wasn't exposed to until a few years ago. I just love it! I often order it at restaurants as it's such a light dessert, a little sweet. It's so refreshing after a big meal. Last month we were in the Napa Valley and had a late lunch at my favorite restaurant there, Bottega. One of their dessert offerings that day was a blood orange panna cotta. It was heavenly! My mission became to recreate that for home.
My favorite panna cotta recipe is from Ina Garten so I tweaked it, using blood orange juice instead of water, to soften the gelatin. This gave the panna cotta a slight pink color. Then I made a juice reduction to pour over before serving. I thought it turned out wonderful! My dinner guests this evening had never had panna cotta and enjoyed it.
Winter is citrus fruit time, everywhere I go I see oranges, grapefruits, lemons hanging on the trees. Blood oranges have a crimson flesh. They have a different taste from regular oranges, almost a raspberry-like addition to the citrus flavor. I love blood oranges and have used them to make marmalade, cakes, and add them to baked chicken dishes. And now I know to use them for panna cotta!
Panna cotta is a very easy dessert to make. It also is a make-ahead dessert, leaving more time for dinner preparation and enjoying guests!
Blood Orange Panna Cotta
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed blood orange juice
2 teaspoons (1 packet) unflavored gelatin powder (Knox)
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
3/4 cup sugar
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on the 3 tablespoons of blood orange juice. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to dissolve.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of the cream, the yogurt, and vanilla extract. Split the vanilla bean and use the tip of a knife to scrape the seeds into the cream. Heat the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cream and the sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Off the heat, add the softened gelatin to the hot cream and stir to dissolve. Pour the hot cream-gelatin mixture into the cold cream-yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Pour into 8 (6- to 8- ounce) ramekins or custard cups and refrigerate uncovered until cold. When the panna cottas are thoroughly chilled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Blood Orange Syrup
1 blood orange, zested, pith removed, cut into segments
1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
In a small saucepan, combine the zest, juice and sugar; bring to a simmer. Cook until sugar is dissolved and mixture has a syrupy consistency, about 4 minutes. Cool and refrigerate in a covered container.
To serve, carefully run a paring knife around edge of each ramekin. Turn upside down onto a plate (shake if it doesn't immediately fall out). Place an orange segment on top and drizzle with blood orange syrup.