This recipe marks the beginning of my Thanksgiving recipe overload. From now until November 22nd, it is all about my favorite holiday and the incredibly wonderful carbs that come with it.
What are your feelings on Thanksgiving desserts? I have grown to really appreciate a good pie, but by the time I have indulged myself in turkey paradise, the richness of buttery crusts enveloping caramel-y fillings has lost all appeal.
This year, I wanted to create a festive dessert that was a little on the lighter side.
Enter, panna cotta. If you have never had panna cotta, think of a marriage between Jello and vanilla custard. It is a gelatin-stabilized sweet cream that is luxuriously creamy without being overly rich, and it makes the perfect final bite to a carb-packed feast.
This dessert is also quite the show stopper when served in delicate flutes, and no one would ever know you whipped it up in a mere thirty minutes! Yes, I am serious, it really is that simple.
The panna cotta has to set up in the refrigerator for a few hours before it will be ready to serve. At this point, you could cover the flutes and allow the panna cotta to rest in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours! I am always in favor of make-aheads when it comes to the holidays.
While it chills, we can turn our attention to one of the most delicious toppings to ever grace this blog.
Not only do oranges add a festive pop of color, the acidity helps to keep this dessert feeling light and fresh.
I caramelized fresh oranges in a bit of sugar to amp up the sweetness and then splashed in a bit of Grand Marnier to create a syrup and add a faint kick. This syrup is great on top of the mild panna cotta as it adds a bit more sweetness to the situation.
While the panna cotta can certainly be made in advance, I would definitely suggest waiting to prepare the oranges until closer to serving time. If allowed to sit for too long, the acidic syrup will cause the panna cotta to separate and while that is not the end of the world, it does compromise those lovely layers.
I love my traditions, but even I would trade a pecan pie for one of these delightful treats. It is just the fuel I need to shop the night away!!
Welcome to Thanksgiving central - it’s going to be a good year!
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Grand Marnier Caramelized Oranges
makes six, 3oz servings // panna cotta recipe adapted from this book.
FOR THE PANNA COTTA
1 3/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Set aside for now.
Sprinkle powdered gelatin over the cold milk and whisk to bloom. Allow to sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
Cook’s Note: Blooming gelatin involves whisking powdered gelatin into a cold liquid to give it a kick start of sorts.
In a 2-quart saucepan, combine heavy whipping cream and granulated sugar. Whisk together and set over medium high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer steadily for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
After 5 minutes have passed, slowly stream the gelatin mixture into the simmering cream, whisking until well combined. Do not allow the mixture to boil!
Cook’s Note: If the mixture boils, the gelatin will lose its stabilizing properties.
Place the saucepan into the prepared ice bath and stir constantly, until just lukewarm.
Pour the contents of the pan through a fine mesh strainer and into a glass measuring cup.
Fill 6 4-ounce glasses 3/4 of the way full and place on a small sheet pan. Drape a sheet of plastic wrap over the pan and refrigerate for 3-4 hours; until set.
Cook’s Note: Panna cotta can be made up to 48 hours in advance, but wait to prepare the oranges until 2 hours or less of when you plan on serving!
FOR THE GRAND MARNIER CARAMELIZED ORANGES
2 medium oranges, peel and pith removed and sliced into supremes
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
Place oranges in a 8-inch frying pan and set over medium high heat. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and use a small, silicone spatula to carefully move the sugar around in the orange juices.
Once the sugar has melted, swirl the pan around several times and then return to heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes; until the sugar just begins to caramelize and deepen in color.
Stir in the Grand Marnier and simmer for one minute. Stir in orange zest and remove from heat.
Allow the oranges to cool until just warm before placing atop the panna cotta. Use a tablespoon to drizzle a bit of syrup over each serving.
Serve immediately. Enjoy!