Guess what? The most delicious dessert in the world is also the super easiest thing to make! How often does that happen?
Phil's boss was coming for dinner (doesn't that sound retro for some reason?) and I was going full-on Italian for the main course so I thought panna cotta sounded really good. It's yet another example of cultural culinary cross-pollination--it's basically vanilla pudding...or flan..or crème brûlée, sans the brûlée. I made my version with zest and juice from clementines because I love winter citrus right now. At the end I drizzled a little honey that had been melted together with orange liqueur right over the top for extra flavor. Start by sprinkling one packet of unflavored gelatin over 3 tablespoons water. Let it stand while you take care of everything else--it should absorb for 5-10 minutes.
Now heat up 1/3 cup of sugar with 3 cups heavy cream. Yes, that sounds insane, just typing it down here. Three cups of cream! You must be out of your damn mind. Substitute in a cup half-and-half to help make up the 3 cups, if it makes you feel better. I'm pretty sure that's what I did.Heat it up quite hot, almost to a boil, until the sugar has all dissolved. Zest in your clementine and squeeze in some juice too. If, let's say, you wanted to make it cardamom flavored instead, or maybe vanilla-ginger or something, this is where you'd add those flavors. I just stuck with the citrus but it's a really great blank canvas.Remove it from heat and pour over the gelatin mixture.
Stir it all up until completely dissolved...you can see here how it is already getting thickened.
Now! You have probably ordered panna cotta at a restaurant and it came out all cute and molded onto a plate and topped with berries or something. That's a lovely way to do it and if you want to go the molded custard route, go ahead and grease up some ramekins so they will unmold properly after the panna cotta has set. But! If you are lazy and/or afraid of unmolding something and having it break right before the boss comes to dinner, go ahead and pour it into cute cups instead and skip the unmolding part.
Here's my cute cups. My bestie Jocelyn and I accidentally stole them from a roommate when we were very young and lived in a huge dirty old house with a bajillion other people.
I feel kind of bad about it now but it was a really long time ago.
I think it would be weird to track him down on Facebook and return them at this point, right?
I had a bunch leftover so the rest went into espresso cups and came to work with me the next day. Teeny espresso cups are perfect for panna cotta! So cute.
They chill for at least 2 hours. Mine went overnight--this really is the perfect make-ahead dessert!
And for a drizzle on top--I heated up 2 tablespoon honey with 1 tablespoon orange liqueur...
And just spooned it over the top in a puddle.
A little twist of clementine peel on the very top et voila! You are done with dessert.