Here in the UK, it’s Sunday afternoon – a chance to spend some quality time with loved ones, family and friends and, perhaps, an opportunity to have a play in the kitchen.
Well, if this description resonates with you, then you’ll probably find this post more than a little mouthwatering. It’ll most likely be your plan of action for later on. Yes, she’s back – Laura Godfrey, our food contributor has served up a treat for us all.
A few Sundays back, after greedily filling my belly with roast pork and crispy Maris Pipers at a local pub, I ordered a decadent sounding citrus-spiked delight from the desert menu. Alas, the server returned from the kitchen moments later looking despondent, muttering those eternally disappointing words; “I’m very sorry, the panna cotta hasn’t set.” Woe. So I decided to make one myself. These aren’t a recognised health food, though they will make you feel good.
For the purists among you: I know this isn’t a true Italian ‘cooked cream’ (originally consisting of cream, egg white and honey, baked in a bain-marie with the closest of monitoring), but a wonderful version of what I believe we now know a modern panna cotta to be; that is a creamy, silken, set dessert, that just ever-so-slightly wobbles on the plate and instantly dissolves on the tongue. The caramelised oranges are a nice addition adding both sharpness and texture. I’ve used blood oranges since they are sublime and in season but standard oranges would work just fine.
For these you will need four small pudding moulds, ramekins or espresso glasses. Alternatively you can eat straight from the pot with a spoon. Do try and use leaf gelatine over the powdered for a more reliable result. It is now readily available at most supermarkets.
The panna cotta are best left to set overnight in the refrigerator and turned out immediately prior to serving.
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Caramelised Blood Orange
For the panna cotta:
Sunflower or other neutral-tasting oil for greasing
2 leaves of gelatine
250 mls whole milk
250 mls double cream
80 grams caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
A few basil leaves, to serve
For the caramelised oranges:
2 blood oranges
100 grams caster sugar
2 tablespoons tap-hot water
Lightly grease moulds or ramekins with the oil and set aside. Submerge gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water and leave to soak for five minutes.
In a heavy-based saucepan, add the milk, cream and caster sugar and place over a medium heat. Split the vanilla pod with a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds, adding both the seeds and pod to the pan. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the cream has come to a simmer.
Remove the pan from the heat, passing the mixture through a sieve. Add the soaked gelatine leaves to the mixture and stir well to combine. Pour into moulds and allow to cool slightly before placing in the fridge overnight.
When the panna cotta are set and you are ready to serve, prepare the oranges. Cut the top and bottom off the fruit, then slice downward to remove the skin and pith, using a curved motion to keep with the contour of the fruit. You want to make sure all the bitter pith is removed. Slice horizontally, removing any seeds as you go and place on a plate awaiting a sweet drizzle.
Place the caster sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Don’t touch it, but don’t turn your back. After about five minutes the sugar around the edge of the pan will have began to melt. Give the pan a shake and return to the heat until approximately half of the sugar is liquid then very gently stir with a wooden soon until all has melted and it resembles dark, runny honey. This should take about ten minutes.
Immediately remove from the heat and add two tablespoons of tap-hot water to loosen the caramel but be careful: it will splatter! Stir. If necessary you can pop the pan back on the heat to loosen any hardened spots. Drizzle over the oranges.
Run a knife around the edge of the panna cotta moulds to loosen and turn out. If they are stubborn, very briefly dip into hot water to assist their release. Scatter with a few basil leaves. Scoff.
Our regular food contributor and one of the Nor–Folk, Laura Godfrey, can also be found on Instagram.