Orange & Marzipan Panna Cotta

I did warn you in my last panna cotta post earlier this month that there might be another panna cotta before the year ends, and here it is.

I wanted to make this specifically for New Year’s as marzipan can give a dessert a bit of a festive touch. The combination of oranges and marzipan appealed especially to me, and my intention had been to use blood oranges for a bit of nice colour, but none of the local supermarkets had any yet.

Marzipan in general is quite popular in Germany, either sold in blocks for baking purposes or chocolate covered for straight consumption. I read up on marzipan a bit and found out that the quality of marzipan depends on its sugar content. The less sugar it contains, the higher the quality.

The highest quality marzipan is also called  “100:0” or “100 % marzipan”. The next best thing is “90:10” or “Lübecker marzipan” – Lübeck being a town in North Germany and the only place allowed to exclusively produce this mix. In third place is a “70:30” mix. In general you can also detect the quality of marzipan by its colour – the yellower it is, the better; lower quality – meaning more sugar content – will show in a whiter colour.

You’ll also find lower quality varieties, and indeed my chocolate coated marzipan bar had an almond content of only 45 %. I chose it because I liked the consistency, and it was easy to just pick off the chocolate coating. I might just as well have chosen any other mix, but whatever you choose to use – do not use decorating marzipan, as that is a different thing.

This panna cotta turned out fabulous, and it looks quite classy, I think. Yes, you do have three different steps to follow, but I find it amazingly little effort for such a great result. It is easily prepared ahead, each step takes just 10 minutes max, and the overall refrigeration time is only 4 hours.

I loved the taste of this shot-sized dessert – the marzipan is already sweet, so there was no extra sugar required, and the orange juice jelly is a slightly tart contrast to the sweetness. I’m glad I chose to do a bottom and top layer of jelly, it gives perfect balance to this dessert. The consistency of the marzipan influences that of the cream part, meaning it’s a little denser than your typical panna cotta – you’ll already notice that during cooking – but what a great ending to a meal and the year.

Now I’ve only got one thing left to do here, and that’s to say THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to stop by, read, and comment during the past year, and to wish all of you THE VERY BEST FOR 2018 – I hope it’ll be a good year for you and that you’ll be enjoying the New Year’s celebrations!

PS: The little four leaf clover and piglet decorations you see in the pics here are a typical German thing – they’re made of marzipan, too, and are sold on New Year’s Eve to give to people as good luck charms.

Orange & Marzipan Panna Cotta

Layer 1
50 ml freshly pressed orange juice
1 gelatine sheet*

Layer 2
75 g marzipan, chopped
200 ml cream
2 gelatine sheets*

Layer 3
50 ml freshly pressed orange juice
1 gelatine sheet*

8 shot glasses

* 1 German gelatine sheet is 12 x 7 cm of size and weighs about 0.3 grams. This might vary in other countries!

For the first layer, soak gelatine sheet in cold water. Meanwhile, heat 50 ml orange juice in a very small pot, and once it starts to boil, take it off the heat and set aside.
When the gelatine sheet has softened in the cold water (about 10 minutes), squeeze it well to remove as much of the water as possible, then quickly stir it into the orange juice and keep stirring until gelatine has completely dissolved.
Divide juice into 8 shot glasses – 1 teaspoon per glass – and refrigerate until set (about 40-50 minutes).

For the second layer, heat cream together with chopped marzipan and stir until all of the marzipan bits have dissolved. Pour this mixture on top of the set orange juice layer and refrigerate again. Setting time for this layer is about 1 hour. [For this layer I used a small funnel and small soup ladle to pour the mixture into the shot glasses.]

For the third layer, another orange juice one, repeat step one.