Orange blossom and creme fraiche panna cotta

This is the fourth panna cotta recipe I’ve spammed the internet with. Use the search function a little further up and to the right if you’d like to see the others.

Seems a bit one trick pony. But the thing is, panna cotta is an excellent way to end a meal at home – a small amount of time and a few good moulds ensures a refreshing and refreshingly easy dinner party flourish. It’s also a grand way to finish off a tub of barely used cream and the half pint of almost on the turn milk in the side of your fridge.

This panna cotta is a little different to the usual vanilla and double cream based ones I churn out. Earlier in the year, I had a very enjoyable ‘milk pudding’ at Polpetto. In essence, this was simply panna cotta minus the panna. So it served as a good reminder that if you add gelatine to anything dairy based, you can get a decent dessert (maybe not butter, but you get the idea).

I was reminded of that message when I saw a tub of creme fraiche criminally close to its use by date at the back of my fridge – I wanted (needed) to make this the star of a pud, rather than simply wait for something to spoon it next to. The sourness of a set dessert based on creme fraiche would be ace, I thought. But maybe too much on its own. So I countered it with a splash of orange blossom – often too soapy for my liking, but just right here. I also added orange juice and grated zest … and everything worked well. Orange, mint and almonds were a simple and delicious match on the side.

Orange blossom and creme fraiche panna cotta

Fills four dariole moulds / medium ramekins
 
200g half fat creme fraiche
100g full fat milk
15g (3 teaspoons) orange blossom
Three oranges
30g icing sugar
2 leaves of gelatine (1.66g each)
 
Mint leaves and whole almonds to garnish

Grate the zest off both oranges into a saucepan. Add the creme fraiche and the orange blossom and stir to combine. Then add the milk and stir again.

Juice one orange and decant that through a sieve into a bowl. Add 100g of juice (approx the whole orange) into the creme mix. Stir thoroughly to ensure everything is combined well – it might look as though it’s split to start with, but should come back together.

Place the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for three minutes.

Very gently warm the creme fraiche and orange mix. Do not boil or the mix will start to split into curds and whey. Heat only just enough to melt the gelatine leaves.

Squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves and add to the cream. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the gelatine in. Allow to cool for fifteen minutes then ladle into your moulds. Put these in the fridge overnight – or for at least four hours.

You’ll need to take out the fridge 30 minutes before eating and also release the panna cotta from their moulds by dipping into a pan of hot water. If you want absolutely no stress when you’re catering, remove them from their moulds before people arrive, and then put your plated (but ungarnished) panna cottas back in the fridge until needed.

Serve with segments and reserved juice of the remaining two oranges, macerated with a sprinkle of icing sugar, and mixed with chopped mint and lightly toasted almonds. Almond and / or orange based biscuits on the side would be a superb touch.

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