Recipe courtesy of Gale Gand
Show: Sweet Dreams
Orange Panna Cotta
30 min
20 min
6 to 8 servings
30 min
20 min
6 to 8 servings


  • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 4 cups heavy cream, or a combination of cream with milk or buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 wide strips fresh orange peel (orange part only-no white pith)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Semisweet chocolate curls, for garnish (optional)
  • Orange supremes (segments), for garnish


In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let soak 10 minutes (do not stir).

Meanwhile, heat the cream, sugar, orange peel, and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to dissolve the sugar. As soon as it simmers, turn off the heat and add the gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve the gelatin. (If the gelatin doesn¿t completely dissolve in 3 minutes, return to the heat and warm gently until dissolved.)

Strain the mixture into a pitcher to remove the vanilla bean and orange rind. Pour the mixture into 6 to 8 ramekins or dessert cups, or into 1 larger dish. Chill, uncovered, at least 3 hours.

To unmold, dip the cups in hot water for 10 seconds, then turn the panna cottas out onto dessert plates (or, simply serve in the cups or by the spoonful). Shave some chocolate curls onto the top of the panna cottas and serve with the orange supremes.

Notes about the recipe: I love panna cotta because you can combine milks and creams to make it sweeter, more tart, or creamier. And then the flavor can be anything you can imagine goes well with dairy¿raspberry, citrus, coffee, tea, what ever! So it's one of those really flexible desserts that you can tailor to fit the flavors in the rest of your menu, and "flexible" almost never happens when it comes to a dessert recipe. Also, you can vary the container you make it in and turn it out to serve it or leave it in. Try using eggcups, demitasse cups, a hollowed out clean eggshell, shot glasses, anything will do. These are ingredients you might already have in your kitchen, too, so it cuts down on shopping, which is key for me. When I want to cook, I want to get right to it and not have to make a trip to the grocery just to get my hands into some dessert!

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