I joked about a second blog post this week, but look – I actually followed through! This post is a long time in making. I had a delicious orange panna cotta with a strawberry sauce in Clancys last year and knew I had to recreate it at home.
To be honest, I really made it a lot more complicated than it had to be, agonising over the best way to get orange flavour into it. I didn’t want to use juice as it would affect the texture; I bought orange extract but was afraid it would be too strong; James Martin’s suggestion of drying orange peel before adding it to the cream was tried. It turns out, simply adding some peel to the cream as it heats is all that’s needed to give a lovely subtle orange flavour.
To make it seasonal, this time I used blackberries instead of strawberries. I also like to add a little crunch and usually I put toasted nuts or honeycomb with panna cotta. This time I decided to make mini meringues and they were perfect with it. So my new favourite dessert of Orange Panna Cotta with Blackberry Sauce and Mini Meringues was born.
If you need convincing about how much I love panna cotta, have a look at this savoury Blue Cheese Panna Cotta with Spiced Poached Pear.
Useful tips & links:
- I find panna cotta quite rich and filling. Therefore I make them in 125ml moulds. If you want you can make them bigger, the recipe yields approx. 700ml of mixture so you can calculate from that how many you will get from your moulds.
- All of the elements need to be made ahead of time which makes this a great dessert for a crowd.
- Use your gelatine packet to calculate how much to use. You want the panna cotta to have a classic wobble when turned out and it should not be rubbery at all, just smooth. I’ve said 5 leaves which is correct for the type I use, they weigh just under 2g each.
- The best way to zest the orange for this is to use a vegetable peeler to get wide strips of zest without the white pith. If you don’t like orange, leave it out and add a little more vanilla.
- Piping is not my strong point as you can see from the photos. If you don’t have piping bags, improvise with a plastic freezer bag. You can just buy some decent shop bought meringues and crumble them over.
- There will be have leftover meringues, these can be used crushed in other desserts, with a fresh fruit salad or on ice cream. You can halve the mixture but it is easier to whisk up 2 whites rather than 1.
- If you are stuck for ways to use the leftover yolks, keep them to make a custard, some pasta or can I suggest these delicious little Chocolate Pots.
- To read more about panna cotta and Italian desserts, have a look at this post from Rinuccini Restaurant or for an alternative take, see Yolene from Crème de Citron’s Breakfast Yoghurt Panna Cotta with Apricot Compote and Pistachios.
- Make the most of blackberries while they are in season with these recipe ideas.
Orange Panna Cotta with Blackberry Sauce and Mini Meringues
For the Panna Cotta:
- 500ml of double cream
- 200ml of full fat milk
- 60g of caster sugar
- 6 wide strips of orange zest
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 5 leaves of gelatine, weighing approx. 9g
- Oil for moulds
For the Blackberry Sauce:
- 200g of blackberries
- 3 tablespoons of orange juice
- 1 tablespoon of caster sugar
- A few drops of vanilla extract
For the Mini Meringues – makes approx. 40:
- 2 medium egg whites, at room temperature
- A pinch of salt
- 100g of caster sugar
- A few drops of vanilla extract
To make the Panna Cotta:
- Put a heavy based saucepan on a medium heat and pour in the cream, milk, sugar, orange zest and vanilla. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid starts to lightly bubble and scald at the edges. The sugar should also be dissolved by now. You do not want to boil it as it will ruin the cream. Take the pan off the heat and allow the flavours to infuse for about 20 minutes.
- Place the gelatine leaves into a shallow dish of cold water for about 5 minutes. Put the cream back onto a gentle heat. When the gelatine is soft, take it out of the water and squeeze the liquid out of it. Add the gelatine to the warm cream and stir to dissolve.
- When the gelatine has fully dissolved, pour the cream through a sieve into a jug to make it easier to fill the moulds. Discard the orange peel.
- Taste the panna cotta to make sure it has the flavour you want and enough sweetness. If you need to add more sugar do so now as there will still be enough heat to dissolve it. Bear in mind when tasting that as it chills the flavour will dull so if it tastes too much of orange, that will lessen by the time you serve it.
- I allow the cream to cool before filling the moulds so that I can stir it occasionally to make sure the vanilla doesn’t settle and the mixture doesn’t split.
- While it is cooling, pour a little oil into your moulds and brush it round so that there is just a thin coating of oil in the mould. Turn the mould upside down to allow the excess oil to run out of them.
- Carefully pour the panna cotta mixture into the moulds and put the moulds into the fridge to set for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
To make the Mini Meringues:
- Preheat your oven to 120c/100c fan/gas mark ½. Line a couple of baking sheets with non stick parchment paper.
- In a spotlessly clean bowl whisk the egg whites with a small pinch of salt until stiff. Gradually add in the sugar, whisking the whole time, until the mixture becomes stiff and glossy and the sugar is dissolved. Rub a little of the meringue mixture between your fingers, if it feels grainy it is not ready yet. Whisk in the vanilla.
- Use a spatula to scrape the mixture into a disposable piping bag. Push the mixture right to the bottom of the bag and make sure there are no air bubbles in the bag. Pipe a small amount of the meringue, pulling away quickly so that there is a little peak at the top on the meringue. Pipe until the mixture is all used.
- Bake in the oven for 60-80 minutes. How long it takes will depend on the size of the meringues and also on your own oven. Mine took 70 minutes to cook. You know they are done when the meringue lifts easily off the paper without sticking.
- Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool inside the oven. This will help them to dry out. I leave mine in overnight.
- Store the mini meringues in an airtight container for up to a week.
To make the Blackberry Sauce:
- Heat all of the ingredients in a saucepan over a medium heat until the blackberries start to break down. Mash them a little to help them to break down. Taste to see if you want to add more sugar.
- You can serve this as a chunky sauce as it is but I like to make it smooth. Pour the sauce into a blender or mini processor and whizz. Then push it through a sieve to remove any lumps. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
To serve Orange Panna Cotta with Blackberry Sauce and Mini Meringues:
- Take the panna cottas and sauce out of the fridge twenty minutes before you want to serve them. Pour some boiling water into a cup or dish slightly bigger than the moulds. Dip the moulds into the boiling water for 10 seconds. You want the edge of the panna cottas just to come away from the mould, you don’t want it to melt.
- Use your finger to gently prise the panna cotta away from the edge of the mould and place a serving dish on top of the mould. Quickly flip it over and shake. The panna cotta should turn out easily onto the plate. If needed, put it back in the water for another few seconds. Repeat with the other desserts.
- Spoon some of the sauce onto the plate, add a few of the meringues and some fresh blackberries if using them. Enjoy!