Apr 25, 2011

Orange Panna Cotta and Bitter Caramel Recipe

Panna Cotta with Caramel Sauce and Pomegranate Seeds
Panna Cotta with Caramel Sauce and Pomegranate Seeds
One of Italy’s classic desserts, panna cotta is ridiculously easy to prepare and impressive to serve. This delicate custard has a lush, creamy texture that will make your guests sigh with pleasure. The sophisticated addition of sweet and tangy orange zest and juice provides a surprise burst of flavor and the pomegranate seeds make it feel very winter festive.
I serve these after a hearty winter supper like my chili-fest, or for a romantic New Year’s Eve dinner.
Makes 6 servings


  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons (1 packet) unflavored gelatin (use 1 1/2 teaspoons if you prefer a softer texture)
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt or buttermilk
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar


  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons good whiskey (or dark rum)


  1. Lightly oil six 3/4-cup ramekins with vegetable oil.
  2. Pour the water into a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the water. Let stand until softened, about 15 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the yogurt, 1 cup whipping cream, and vanilla. Set aside.
  4. Panna Cotta
    Panna Cotta
  5. Heat the remaining cup of whipping cream and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the cream comes to a simmer. Remove from heat. Add the gelatin mixture to the pan, stirring to dissolve. Mix the hot cream-gelatin mixture into the yogurt mixture.
  6. Divide the mixture among the oiled ramekins. Refrigerate the ramekins (uncovered) until cold, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.


  1. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Heat over low until the sugar is completely melted and you have a crystal clear liquid.
  2. sugar water on the boil
    sugar water on the boil
  3. Raise the heat to medium high and simmer the liquid until it caramelizes to the shade you have in mind, from a delicate tan to the slightly bitter mahogany I wanted for this. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Slowly pour in the warm cream, with care—it will foam up like mad!
  5. Return the pan to low heat. Cook, stirring gently with a wooden spoon to dissolve any solid bits of caramel, until the sauce is smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and  whiskey.  (The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks)
Dark Caramel
Finished dark caramel


  • Run a small knife around the edge of each custard to loosen. Invert the custards onto serving plates 



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