Dark-Chocolate Panna Cotta with Candied Blood-Orange Slices
Serves 6 | 30 minutes active time, 6 hours to refrigerate
A decadent finish to your holiday dinner, this creamy luscious dark-chocolate dessert is rich and satisfying, yet not overly sweet. Simple to make, this make-ahead dessert can be brought out right after dinner, already dished up, with no hassle (but with lots of applause).
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half-and-half
1/8–1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla or Kahlua liqueur
generous pinch salt
1 cup quality bittersweet chocolate chips
1 package gelatin
1/4 cup fresh blood-orange juice (or regular orange works too)
Candied Blood-Orange Slices
1 blood orange, thinly sliced (or use a regular orange)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
In a medium pot, gently heat whipping cream and half-and-half over medium heat. Add sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir often and bring just to a simmer, taking care not to boil. Turn heat to low and whisk in chocolate chips, stirring until chocolate is melted and smooth. Taste. Add more sugar if you prefer, and gently stir over low heat to dissolve.
Turn heat off.
In a small saucepan, warm orange juice just slightly. Sprinkle gelatin over the top, let it sit one minute, then stir with a fork until smooth. Add to the hot chocolate mixture and whisk well.
Divide the mixture into 6 ramekins, cups, or glasses (stemless wineglasses or vintage cocktail glasses work well here) and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to three days (covering with plastic wrap if refrigerating longer than overnight).
To make candied blood-orange slices, bring sugar and water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add the thinly sliced oranges, coating all sides. Simmer over medium heat 20 minutes, turning the sliced oranges occasionally until they become tender and syrup thickens. Turn heat to low, simmer 10–15 more minutes. Place orange slices on a cooling rack, reserving syrup.
When panna cotta is firm and oranges have cooled, place a candied blood-orange slice over the top of each panna cotta dish and drizzle with a little of the syrup. Serve with a small spoon, or refrigerate until ready to serve (wrap with plastic wrap).
Tip: Make this up to 3 days ahead and refrigerate until ready to serve. Instead of making the candied blood oranges, you could simply add a tablespoon of finely grated orange zest to the panna cotta.
To intensify the beautiful color of the candied oranges, add 1–2 slices of raw beet to the syrup while cooking, especially if you are using regular oranges.