Ryan Thomas is a university student who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.
Panna cotta is a delightful Italian dessert that is so very flexible, so universal, and so adaptive to innovation! I'm sure that one can make as many versions of this brilliant gelatin custard as there are stars in the sky. With the tempting decadence of chocolate, the elegant and simple innocence of vanilla, bright flashes of fruit from strawberry to cherry, the vivacious flavor of orange, sweet pear, the strong and mellow flavor of caramel, and a thousand more to add on.
In this particular panna cotta recipe, we have introduced the penetrating and haunting flavor of rose—a flavor that Americans, at least in my own experience with our cuisine, might not be used to. Effervescent upon the tongue, rose constitutes the base flavor of this smooth and creamy dessert. But things continue to improve from there as we add chocolate morsels that create bursts of flavor upon the tongue, and then as we pour over it a rich and sweet orange Grand Marnier sauce—which penetrates as it rests to form a marriage of orange and rose—the two flavors in their distinct stratum, but together complementing each other in the creation of such a beautiful symphony.
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The greatest element of all is the ease with which the recipe is made: no individual step is difficult, although it does require several separate, time-sensitive steps.
I took some inspiration for this recipe from Creamy Rose Panna Cotta, by Erin Eastland.
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3/4 cup cream
- 3/4 cup + 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 (2-gram) sachets gelatin
- 3/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1/4 cup rose water
- 2 ounces chocolate, chopped into small morsels
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
- Combine together the milk, cream, and vanilla. Bring to boil in a saucepan over heat, then reduce heat and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine together the gelatin with 2 tablespoons of water, and allow to soak for 5 minutes.
- Whisk the gelatin into the hot milk and cream, then add in the crème fraîche, the sugar, and the rose syrup. Mix thoroughly until well combined. Allow to rest on the counter to cool slightly.
- Once it is cooled enough to not melt chocolate, but not fully chilled, add in the chopped chocolate. Immediately put into the refrigerator for 4–5 hours until it is thoroughly set.
- Combine together the 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water in a new small saucepan. Heat over high heat until it boils and reduces. Once it has become a syrup, add in the Grand Marnier, and then continue to boil for at least 5 more minutes until it has reduced and become a rather thick syrup. Pour this over the panna cotta. This can be served immediately, but preferably wait overnight for the flavor of the orange syrup to penetrate. Decorate with rose petals, orange peel, chocolate shavings, or other garnishes for aesthetic appeal, and unmold if one wants a truly beautiful look.
© 2018 Ryan Thomas