Panna cotta in Italian means "cooked cream" and its recipe is rather simple. Commonly panna cotta is made combining cream, sugar, vanilla extract and gelatin as thickening agent.
However, this panna cotta recipe has no gelatin in it and I used egg whites and slow refrigeration process to thicken it. I also used some orange blossom honey and a real vanilla bean pod for extra flavor.
Use fresh fruit, jams and syrups to create different sauces for panna cotta,
Ingredients and Instructions (serves 4-6):
1 pint/500 ml of fresh cream
5 level tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of orange blossom honey
4 egg whites
1 vanilla bean pod
1. Slit the vanilla pod passing the tip of a sharp knife along its length and scrape the seeds inside. Put both seeds and pod into a saucepan together with cream, sugar, honey and simmer gently until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for about 1 hour this will fully infuse the aroma of the vanilla into the cream as well.
2. Meanwhile, at the end of the hour, lightly beat the egg whites in a bowl. Dont overdo it, if the egg whites are whipped for too long, the cream will form bubbles in the center while cooking.
3. Remove the vanilla pod from the cream, incorporate with the egg whites and fill the ramekins or molds up to 3/4 of their capacity 4 to 6 of them, depending on their size.
4. Set the oven at 320 F/160 C, arrange the molds on a large baking pan and, when the oven is ready, place the pan on the center rack, and fill it with warm water, enough to cover the molds just halfway, not to the edge.
5. Cook for about 45 minutes (1 hour if you decide to use a single large mold instead of the individual ones). The top of the cream should slightly thicken and start changing color. The cream will remain soft inside the molds but will solidify completely once refrigerated. Let cool down at room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours covered with plastic or, even better, overnight.
For the Orange Sauce:
1/2 cup of good orange marmalade
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix the orange marmalade with 1 cup of water and the lemon juice. Bring to a light boil, stir and reduce the sauce to a slightly runny consistency.
2. Scoop the sauce on top of each panna cotta bowl before the refrigeration, or warm just before serving.
You may also garnish the bowls with a fresh mint leaf over the sauce or sprinkle it with a few drops of orange liqueur or a tiny pinch of cinnamon powder.
Cinzia Aversa, 2013