Friday, March 13, 2009

Panna Cotta, Take 3

Orange panna cotta

Okay, I think I have finally achieved the perfect consistency after two tries. I basically followed the same recipe as before, but this time I tried orange flavored panna cotta instead of almond, and I only had half-and-half and no cream so I adjusted the ratio a bit.

Orange Panna Cotta (based on this recipe)
makes 6 small servings

2 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
Zest from 1 medium orange
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 tablespoon powdered unflavored gelatin bloomed in 3 tablespoons water
1 red navel orange (or any other kind of orange that doesn't segment well; I would not recommend mandarins for example)
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

In a small saucepan over medium-high, combine half-and-half, milk, zest, and 3/4 cups sugar; bring to a boil. Stir in the orange extract. Remove from heat, and let stand for 20 minutes.

Cut the orange horizontally (along the latitudinal planes) so that you have 6 circular slices that will fit into the ramekins you are using.

Microwave the gelatin and water for 8 seconds. Add a ladleful or two of the warm half-and-half mixture to the gelatin and gently stir until all lumps are gone. Add to the rest of the half-and-half mixture. Pass the mixture through a sieve and divide evenly among 6 small ramekins or other servings dishes. Carefully add the orange slices so that they are floating on top. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

In a small saucepan, boil the orange juice and remaining 1/2 cup sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

Once the panna cotta has set, pour the orange syrup on top and serve.

Orange panna cotta

I think because I added the warm mixture to the gelatin to dissove it before adding it to the rest of the mixture, it really helped to distribute the gelatin. I definitely noticed a lot less gelatinous lumps in the sieve this time, and as a result, the texture of the panna cotta was perfect--neither too soft or too firm. On the other hand, I realize I like the almond flavored ones better, so if I ever make this again, I know what I'll stick with.

I had originally wanted the orange slices to sit on the bottom of the ramekin so that after the panna cotta had set, I could flip it upside-down and serve it with the orange slice on top. But the slices ended up floating when I added the panna cotta mixture so I had to scrap that idea. That's also the reason why you can see some milkiness on top of the orange slice and why the circumference of the slice I chose was a lot smaller than the mouth of the ramekin. And by the way, how are people able to unmold the panna cotta anyways? I tried running a knife along the edge, but it didn't work very well; you could see the knife marks along the edge and the top (or bottom, depending on how you look at it) was all sunk in afterwards. Maybe I need to run some hot water on the outside first to "melt" the edges a bit....

I didn't take any pictures of how it looked with the orange syrup because by the time it had cooled the light sucked, and anyways, I like the look without the syrup because you can clearly see the pure white of the panna cotta and the little orange slice floating on top like a lily pad. Too bad you can't really eat the orange slice as is because of the rind. I suppose if I had had the time, I could have candied the slices so that they could be eaten as is. Perhaps next time....

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