Blood Orange Panna Cotta with Caramelised Oranges

I’ve gotten over the coconut, but obviously I’m still into blood oranges.  I had some freshly pressed juice left over and was searching my brain for ways to use it up.  I can do quite intricate stuff with food (okay, maybe I haven’t shown that too much here, so I might have to prove it sometime soon…), but I have confessed before that I like easy options in cooking.  So I came up with the easiest one – panna cotta.

Blood Orange Panna Cotta 01

When you get to the recipe, you’ll notice I didn’t use any sugar.  There’s a reason for that.  I forgot it!  Stirring the gelatine into the cream, something kept nagging at the back of my mind, and it took a while to realise I hadn’t used sugar.  However, I opted to not add it after the gelatine, because I had tried the mixture, and it tasted good.  Otherwise, I’d have realised sooner that something was missing…

When it comes to enjoying food, I am an advocate for full fat options.  What I enjoy about panna cotta is the cream, so that’s probably also a reason why I didn’t miss the sugar.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t use any – I’d probably add it next time just to taste the difference.  So that’s why I put sugar as optional in the ingredients list below.

Blood Orange Panna Cotta 02

Blood Orange Panna Cotta with Caramelised Oranges

1 cup / 250 ml cream
½ cup / 125 ml freshly pressed blood orange juice
½ vanilla bean
2 gelatine leaves*
25 g sugar (optional)
2 blood oranges, filleted
2 – 3 tbsp brown sugar

*Note: 1 German gelatine sheet is 12 x 7 cm in size. This might vary in other countries!

Leave gelatine leaves to soak in cold water.  Heat the cream.  Scrape vanilla seeds from bean and add both to the cream.  Once the cream starts boiling, slowly add the blood orange juice.  Stir in sugar, if using.  Simmer for 12 minutes.

Take pot off the heat, remove and discard vanilla bean.  Squeeze out the gelatine leaves, and stir in with a whisk.   Keep stirring for a minute or so to make sure there aren’t any lumps.

Fill mixture into jars or receptacles of your choice, and refrigerate for about 4 hours.

To make the caramelised oranges, fillet the blood oranges.  Slowly heat 2 – 3 tbsp sugar in a heavy based pan until it melts.  Once it starts to bubble slightly, add the oranges and stir well.

Serve panna cotta topped with the caramelised oranges.

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This dessert tastes quite refreshing, in the panna cotta you have the not too tart taste of the blood oranges, and the slightly sweeter caramelised oranges, which is a great combination.

And although I like this panna cotta as it is, I would probably do some things differently next time.  As mentioned, I might add sugar to see if it makes a great difference.  Also, my caramelising was not perfect – I let the sugar heat too quickly, so parts of it had become a little bitter (I removed those bits before serving).  Then, what I didn’t mention above, is that instead of 2 gelatine leaves, I added 4, because somehow I had this misconception that adding orange juice to the cream would dilute it too much, so that I’d need to counter that with more gelatine.  Not the case at all.  My panna cotta was a bit firmer than usual, but next time I’ll just use 2 leaves.  But don’t get me wrong – it doesn’t need to be improved, it’s just an option.

On that note, I’ll leave you with this Valentine pink dessert…

Blood Orange Panna Cotta 04