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Panna Cotta with Raspberry and Orange Sauce

(post, Patricia Conte)

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As posted on Grab a Plate

Panna Cotta with Raspberry and Orange Sauce is a simple, elegant and creamy dessert. It’s rich, but not too sweet, and the silky texture and fresh berries make it a lovely dessert, especially for a special occasion.

My sweet tooth knows no bounds, but when I have several options for dessert, I typically pick something heavy on the chocolate, the more drizzle and pieces and chunks the better! Never in a million years would I go to dinner, make it to dessert and order panna cotta. (Besides, why should I? That’s the type of dessert my husband would choose. So I get my chocolaty dessert, and a few bites of his, too!)

Frankly, making a dessert like panna cotta has always intimidated me. But no more fear. The process is super-simple and yields wonderfully creamy results. Even though it’s easy to make, it took me many attempts to get this to turn out the way it should.  

Solid with no separation anxiety
I tried several recipe combinations (about 6 different batches!) using a variety of main ingredients (including half-and-half, heavy cream and mascarpone in various combinations, which pretty much kept the dairy industry humming) before I settled on this one. I had a lot of separation issues with the ingredients I was using, as well as trouble getting the ingredients to solidify. Typically, after so many tries, I would have given up. But this recipe seemed too simple to result in failure over and over! So I trudged on (mostly, I think, because it just bugged me so much that it wasn’t working) and this morning I can claim success! 

I referred to a lot of recipes and used different ingredients and processes, but I was originally inspired by the recipe in the cookbook, “Gluten-free Cooking,” by Lyndel Costain & Joanna Farrow.

Mix, match and test
One nice thing about this dessert: there is a lot of flexibility to mix things up. Use the fruit topping of your choice like fig preserves, blueberries or mangoes. Add crumbled almond cookies or toasted coconut flakes to the top. That’s the easy part. If you’re looking for more options, you could try yogurt or a non-dairy main ingredient, or honey instead of sugar, but a word of warning: if you vary the main ingredients, the testing is up to you! 

Panna cotta with raspberry and orange sauce is rich, simple and elegant. Since it’s easy to make (now that I know what to do), keep it in your back pocket for a special occasion or a special guest. 

I like this so much that I might rethink my dessert options the next time I’m out to dinner!

Serves 6 people

 4 cups of half and half
 1/2 cup mascarpone
 1/2 cup sugar
 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
 1 tablespoon powdered unflavored gelatin
 Zest from 1 orange
 2 cups fresh raspberries (or frozen, thawed)
 2 teaspoons orange juice
 1-2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
 Nonstick cooking spray

# Spray 6 ramekins or juice glasses with the nonstick cooking spray.
# Add the half and half to a saucepan over low-medium heat (don’t let the mixture get too hot or come to a boil). 
# When warm, sprinkle the gelatin over the mixture, and stir it to dissolve it. 
# Add the mascarpone and stir until melted. 
# Add the sugar, orange zest and vanilla, and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat and let it stand for about 5 minutes.
# Pour the mixture evenly into the ramekins or glasses.
# Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours, but ideally overnight. 
# Meanwhile, put the raspberries in a bowl and press them softly with a fork to produce some juice. 
# Add the orange juice and confectioners sugar and mix together. Keep the berry mixture refrigerated until you’re ready to serve the panna cotta.
# When the panna cotta has set, move a knife around the edges of the ramekin or glasses to loosen it, and gently shake each onto individual plates.
# Drizzle the berry mixture over each serving.