Friday, February 18, 2011

Orange Panna Cotta with Earl Grey Cardamom Sauce

With a pile of gorgeous oranges on my table, I focus on a cool and breezy Italian panna cotta for a bright bite of fresh citrus. What I love about panna cotta is the lighter quality it has due to the fact that it does not contain the eggs normally used to enrich puddings, custards and cremes. This lightness of being is a welcome cap to the rich and robust multi-course Italian meals that bring so much enjoyment and sheer gusto to any table. I also like the fact that panna cotta is very simple to prepare. Mix a few ingredients in about 10 minutes, refrigerate to set up and then presto! It's a very nice canvas for a multitude of flavors and garnishes.

For a maximum clean tart citrus flavor, I combine the usual base of cream with a good dose of orange juice, orange zest and plain yogurt. I use the bare minimum of gelatin that will hold it all together but still deliver a nice creamy mouthfeel. The optional sauce is a combination of orange peel and cardamom steeped in sweetened Earl Grey tea.

For a simple and refreshing dessert, panna cotta is pure Italian flair and delight.

Bench notes:
- You’ll need a total of 4 oranges for this dessert.
- Always gently sprinkle gelatin into a cold liquid rather than pouring liquid onto gelatin, which will cause it to clump rather than dissolve. Do not stir. Once it has bloomed, it must be reheated to become a liquid. I use a small pyrex custard cup and place the bottom of it into a pan of shallow simmering water for a minute or two. Some people use a microwave but you must be careful not to let the gelatin mixture boil or you will have to start over again.
- If your panna cotta doesn't turn out easily from the ramekin, warm the bottom of the dish by dipping in hot water for a few seconds. As you run a knife or small offset spatula around the edge to loosen, gently nudge and lift just a bit on opposite sides to create an air pocket. Then invert onto a plate and tap the bottom.
- This is also good plain or you can simply garnish with a small dollop of whipped cream flavored with vanilla or Grand Marnier.
- These are best when eaten the same day.

Orange Panna Cotta with Earl Grey Cardamom Sauce

6 half cup servings

1 C heavy cream
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C fresh orange juice
zest of 2 oranges
1 1/4 C plain yogurt
2 t lemon juice
scant 1/4 t vanilla
salt, to taste
1 1/2 t gelatin
2 T cold water
2 oranges for orange segments garnish

1 C water
1 Earl Grey tea bag
strips of orange peel from half an orange
3 cardamom pods
1 1/2 - 2 T sugar, to taste

Combine the heavy cream, sugar, orange juice in a saucepan. Zest two oranges into the cream mixture. Heat slowly until the sugar is dissolved. Take off the heat and steep for a half hour.

Strain the cream into a bowl and add the yogurt, lemon juice and vanilla. Whisk thoroughly. Add a small pinch of salt, to taste.

Sprinkle the gelatin into the water and let bloom for 5 minutes. Melt the gelatin by placing the bottom of the dish in a pan of simmering water. Whisk into the panna cotta. Pour into six 4 oz ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

For the syrup, bring water to a boil and add tea, orange strips, cardamom and sugar to taste. Steep for a few minutes until it has the desired strength and strain into a bowl. If you'd like a thicker syrup, add more sugar and simmer until desired thickness. Cool completely.

For the two remaining oranges, take a sharp knife and remove the peel and pith. Section each orange slice into a bowl and set aside.

To serve, run a thin knife or small metal spatula around the rim of the panna cotta. Invert onto a plate and garnish with orange slices and sauce.


Nutmegs, seven said...

I love the photos on this post - beautiful colours. I've been wanting to try making earl grey ice cream for ages to go with a lemon tart, I might have to get my act together now, you've inspired me!

Lisa@ButteryBooks said...

This sounds delicious and thanks for all the tips. I am a big fan of anything creamy with Earl Grey tea. I made a similar dish once minus the oranges (so I guess not all that similar) and put Earl Grey in the main was one of my favorites.

pastry studio said...

I'm a HUGE fan of Earl Grey tea! I'm working on perfecting an Earl Grey Sherbet recipe. I love the flavor profile and I think it goes well with a number of other things.

Victoria said...

You know how there are chocolate people and lemon people. Well, I think I'm an orange person; there are two orange cakes in my repertoire.

This, of course, sounds wonderful, and I must say you have gone beyond perfection with these photos. Simply beautiful.

And oranges are like apples for me - I can get them! I always have Earl Grey and Twining's Lady Grey Tea in the house.

astheroshe said...

I have never made Panna is a Daring Bakers challenge this month. So i will finally get my chance.
Have been looking at many recipes.. I hear the correct amount of gelatin is the key to perfection. I am saving this recipe..Thanks for sharing. Your looks luscious!

pastry studio said...

Victoria, I hear ya! I love anything citrus. Would love to hear more about your favorite orange cake recipes and why they work for you. I'm in love with sformato.

astheroshe, have fun with the challenge! It's not difficult at all. It can sometimes be a fine line with the gelatin. I hope you enjoy this!

Paris Pâtisseries said...

Where do you get these flavor combinations? You are brilliant. Earl grey cardamom. The gelato shop downstairs from me has both those flavors. I will have to ask for samples and eat them together, as a crude approximation of what is surely a taste sensation in your panna cotta.

pastry studio said...

A gelato shop downstairs = danger.

The predominant flavor here is orange, then Earl Grey with cardamom a backnote. I think it works well since I love all three flavors very much!

aman said...

i love Orange Panna Cotta its sound delicious......

Sammie said...

Nothing is more tasty than an orange dessert! Your pictures make my mouth water and I'm seriously regretting not buying oranges at the store yesterday.

Catherine said...

Earl grey and cardamom sound like a fantastic combination, not to mention a perfect partner for a rich creamy panna cotta. I like the idea of using yogurt in the panna cotta because sometimes I find ones just made with cream a little too rich (I never thought I'd see myself describe something as too rich!)

Restaurants said...

These things look gorgeous and I am sure are delicious. I'm bookmarking these to try this weekend.

Sabrine d'Aubergine said...

Orange pannacotta? Never tried before... but, as we say here in Italy: c'è sempre una prima volta! That is: it's in my to-do list...


Food Courts said...

This pastry is looking very yummy..Nice blog..

Olivia said...

Wow this looks absolutely good and probably taste delicious.

Kimberly said...

Nice post I love all your recipes! I've become quite the addict lately! Thanks for a great dinner that warms up the house.

Madison said...

Wow this looks absolutely good and probably taste delicious.

Kevin said...

What a great way to enjoy some orange flavours!

saturday mike said...

I made this last night as dessert after Easter dinner and it was a HUGE success. It was the first time I've made panna cotta, and it was very easy to make and turned out perfectly!

However, I changed the recipe for the syrup. I made the tea-cardamom syrup as described, but I was a bit confused. Sugar is listed in the ingredients, but there are no instructions on what to do with it, so I added it while the tea steeped. When it was cool, I realized it wasn't a syrup at all, but a very sweet tea, so I put it back in a pan, added about a 1/2 cup of sugar and boiled it down until it was a thick syrup.
And that syrup, combined with the bright orange flavor, was just great! Really, really nice combination.

pastry studio said...

saturday mike, I'm really gratified to hear that you're trying new things in the world of pastry! Panna Cotta is so easy to make and I'm very pleased that it was enjoyed by you and your guests.

I really appreciate your info on the sauce/syrup. I've corrected the recipe.

saturday mike said...

PS - Now the recipe's perfect! I forgot to add that the leftover syrup could be used in other desserts, or simply poured on ice cream. Tasty!

pastry studio said...

Oh, now there's a great idea! Thanks, mike.

Nick P said...

how will i know when the gelatin is melted properly? does it just look like a thin, clear liquid?

pastry studio said...

Hi, Nick P. Yes, when you first add gelatin to the water, as it absorbs it will look spongy. Then when you heat it gently in a water bath, it will melt into a clear liquid.

Nick P said...

thanks! it didn't quite work the first time i tried, but the custard was still amazing

pastry studio said...

Nick, sorry to hear that but glad you were able to enjoy it nonetheless!!