My mom made this panna cotta a couple weeks ago as a conclusion to our Sunday noon meal. The complex caramel flavor from the cream and the bright citrus flavor from the fresh oranges complemented each other well — and made this the perfect dessert for a sunny but brisk winter afternoon.
Active Time: 30 minutes
Start to Finish: 9½ hours (includes chilling)
1½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin (from one ¼-ounce envelope)
2 tablespoons whole milk
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
? teaspoon salt
1½ cups heavy cream
¼ cup granulated sugar
2½ teaspoons finely grated orange zest
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¾ cup sour cream
2 navel oranges
Special equipment: six 4-ounce metal molds or ramekins
Lightly oil molds or ramekins. Sprinkle gelatin over milk in a small bowl and let stand for about 1 minute to soften. Whisk together confectioners’ sugar, salt and 1 cup cream in another small bowl.
Heat granulated sugar in a dry small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, without stirring, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until melted into a golden caramel. Stir in 1½ teaspoons zest and cook, stirring, until zest in fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir cream mixture and carefully add to caramel (it will bubble and harden). Cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until caramel is dissolved. Add gelatin mixture and remaining 1 teaspoon zest and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in orange juice, remove from heat, and let stand just until cooled to room temperature.
Pour caramel mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl.
Beat remaining ½ cup heavy cream in a small bowl with an electric mixture until it just holds soft peaks. Whisk sour cream in another small bowl until smooth. Fold whipped cream into sour cream, then fold into caramel mixture until well combined.
Spoon into molds and refrigerate, covered, until firm, at least 8 hours.
One at a time, dip molds into a bowl of hot water for 3 seconds, then run a thin flexible knife around edge of mold, tilting mold so panna cotta pulls away from sides. Invert mold onto center of dessert plate, holding mold and plate at a 45-degree angle so panna cotta slips out. Let panna cotta stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove peel and white pith from oranges with a sharp paring knife. Holding oranges over a bowl to catch juices, cut segments free from membranes and transfer segments to cutting board. Squeeze juice from membranes into bowl. Coarsely chop orange segments and add them to juice.
Just before serving, spoon oranges and juice over panna cotta.
From The Gourmet Cookbook (2004, 836-7)