Fancy Orange Panna Cotta

The other night I had a few friends over for an Italian dinner and thought I would try a different spin on the panna cotta I made for New Year’s Eve. I found this promising recipe online, decided to try it out, and holy cow did it deliver! The yogurt made this much lighter than the heavy vanilla panna cotta I made before and it was perfect for summer (not that the weather’s been very summer-like lately). I had to adjust the sauce recipe a bit to make it work but it was quite well received  by the group and definitely something I will make again.

1 cup heavy cream

½ cup white sugar

½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about one orange)

Zest of 2 oranges

1 ¼ cups plain yogurt

2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

½ teaspoon vanilla

Sprinkle of salt

1 ½ teaspoons Knox unflavored gelatin

2 tablespoons cold water

2 oranges sliced into segments for garnish

1 cup water

1 Earl Grey tea bag

Strips of orange peel from half an orange

3 cardamom pods

6 tablespoons white sugar

Combine the heavy cream, sugar, and orange juice in a saucepan. Add the zest of the 2 oranges into the cream mixture and heat slowly until the sugar is dissolved. Take off of the heat and let steep for half an hour. Strain the cream into a bowl and wisk in the yogurt, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt to taste.

Sprinkle the gelatin into the 2 tablespoons of water and let bloom for 5 minutes. Heat this up slowly by warming the bottom of the bowl in simmering water. If you use a small metal cup you can also just hold it in a bowl of hot water until it melts. Make sure you don't boil the gelatin, you just want to warm it to a liquid. Once it's softened, wisk the gelatin into the cream mixture.

Carefully pour the panna cotta into 6 ramekins. If you don't have ramekins you could use small cups (or even a muffin tin - no one will know).

Put the panna cotta in the refrigerator to set for at least 4 hours - I would recommend making this the morning of the day you plan to serve it.

While the panna cotta is firming up (that's what she said) you can make the syrup. Boil 1 cup of water in a saucepan and remove from the heat to steep the tea, orange strips, and cardamom for about 15 minutes. Remove the tea bag and add the 1/2 cup of sugar. Simmer over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has thickened. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

Unmold just before serving, spoon a little of the syrup over the top of the panna cotta, and garnish with the orange slices.

Happy Molding!