Panna Cotta with Orange Sauce, and Biscotti

Ever since I got back from Polar Bear Dipping in Northern Michigan, I’ve let my mind wander. Lured away from a winter wonderland to the spellbinding embrace of a warm, tropical breeze.
And you know, sometimes, dreaming is all I have, to keep from freezing my assets off.

As compensation, I treated myself to an ethereally light dessert, Panna Cotta.

You might argue there's no such thing as “light” Panna Cotta, so it is possible I made that up. There's also a slight possibility that the heavy cream in this dessert made my heart stop, but only for about 30 seconds.
Fortunately, the joy derived from this silky-textured Italian indulgence, defibrillated my heart back to a normal rhythm.

So, fie on the near-death experience!
However, if/when I keel over, I pray Heaven features Panna Cotta on their dessert menu.

It is my hope that Panna Cotta will also set your heart aflutter.

I often top this custard with seasonal fresh fruits or fruit sauces. Here, I've paired it with an orange sauce. But I will admit, my preference is still this Raspberry Sauce.

Btw, the orange sauce was given a boost of flavor with a tiny pinch of Orange Powder (recipe below). The powder was also used to decorate the plain white plate.

The supporting role to this simple dessert is played by a cookie, known as Biscotti (Italian for twice-cooked). It is buttery, crunchy, and it's a perfect contrast to the creamy Panna Cotta.

I added candied orange peel to the biscotti. And I thought the fennel seeds complemented the (slightly) bitter edge of the candied peel.
But if candied citrus peel makes you wince, leave it out. Try dried cherries, or dried apricots, and omit the fennel seeds.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

1½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
2 tablespoons cold water
1½ cups heavy cream
½ cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1½ teaspoons vanilla paste, or pure vanilla extract

Lightly grease six 4-ounce ramekins with a neutral oil.
In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the cold water, and allow to soften 8 to 10 minutes.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring heavy cream and sugar to a boil. Stir until sugar dissolves. Stir in softened gelatin, until dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla paste until combined. Pour mixture into prepared ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours, or overnight. Panna Cotta will keep 3 to 4 days, in the refrigerator.

Orange Sauce

2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed

Whisk the eggs and one-third of the sugar to a ribbon consistency. In a saucepan, boil the orange juice with the remaining sugar, until sugar dissolves. Pour the orange juice mixture onto the eggs, whisking continuously. Strain sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl. Let sauce cool, whisking occasionally. Once the sauce has cooled, transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate. Finest Desserts by Michel Roux.

Orange and Fennel Biscotti

½ pound (2 sticks unsalted butter)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla paste, or vanilla extract
1/3 cup candied orange peel, cut into ¼" dice
2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups finely ground almonds
½ cup sliced almonds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar, until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla paste. Mix until combined. Beat in the candied orange peel.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, ground almonds, and fennel seeds together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, in three batches, and mix well. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and stir in the sliced almonds.

Scrape the dough onto a floured surface. Divide dough in half, and roll each into 12-inch cylinders. Cover dough loosely, and chill, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place logs, about 3-inches apart, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Lower oven temperature to 325°F.
Once the cookie logs are cool enough to handle, cut them into ¾-inch diagonal slices, with a serrated knife.
Arrange biscotti, close together, on the prepared pan, and bake again, 15 to 20 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Makes about 3 dozen.

Some of you might know of my love affair with all citrus fruits. I even use the peel of some to make powders, which I add to both, sweet and savory dishes. And best of all, this flavor-packing powder is free.

Orange Powder

Pare the peel from 10 oranges—preferably thin-skinned oranges—if not, scrape any attached pith with the edge of a spoon. Blanch peel for 1 minute in boiling water. Refresh in cold water, drain, and pat dry.

Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and a little confectioner's sugar. Dry in the oven, on its lowest possible setting for 2 to 3 hours, or until very crisp.

Grind peel to a powder in a spice grinder, or food processor. Strain through a sieve, and store in an airtight container until needed. Adapted from Your Place or Mine? by Jean-Christophe Novelli.

P.S. If you're not planning on using the Orange Powder within a couple of weeks, store it in the freezer to keep it from lumping up.

Well, next time you come by, I'll be in Italy, the land of love, for Valentine's Day.
Of course, I'm kidding. I don't plan on traveling to Italy, until they, at least, fix the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I mean, seriously.
In any case, I will be sharing a woomantic V-day idea with you.

Guys, I was just wondering (and please, let's keep this just between us), if Italy truly is the land of love, then why is the Leaning Tower of Pisa...leaning?


  1. A fabulous dessert! I am a fan of all things citrusy and creamy. Those biscotti must taste heavenly. What a stunning flavor combo. Lovely clicks too.



  2. Que c'est beau! A very dreamy looking dessert with beautiful photos..the orange sugar put it over the top :) Only you..

    Italy is romantic..I am not a guy..but oh my gosh it's romantic.

  3. It looks devilishly delicious! Perfect to brighten up this snowy, cold day!
    No one does it like you, Sol!

  4. Wow, that dessert is a work of art. It looks so professional and sounds so creamy and good. I have a linky party going on at my blog called "Sweets for a Saturday" and I'd like to invite you to stop by and link this up.

  5. Be still my heart! That looks fabulously fantastic! Boy, Sol, when you come back, you come back with a big bang, that is one awesome dessert!

  6. Who needs Italy for romance when you put romance into everything you make there at home! Gosh, that's a beautiful dessert, Sol. Leave it to you to decorate a plate with orange powder too. You've elevated panna cotta to new heights!

  7. Rosa, I'm also an active member of the citrus and chocolate club.

    Monique, is it possible Italy's romantic influence rubbed off on you somehow? :)

    Kathleen, you're right—this is a white, light and delicate dessert with a devilish edge.

    Hi Lisa, and thank you for the offer :)

    "Be still my heart?" Carol! I was sorta kidding about the dessert's effect on the heart. Jumpstart! Jumpstart!

    Susan, at this point, I'll take a trip anywhere where temperatures are hovering above 15°F.

    Warm hugs to all!

  8. Marysol that looks so delicious! And I am so intrigued by the orange powder :) nice tech with the orange biscotti too.

  9. Polar bear dipping? Well now, if that doesn't get people's attention,surely this panna cotta and those enticing photos will. Love the idea of adding candied orange peel.

  10. Hello, dear one. You never cease to amaze me with your awesome creativity. I must have this ... is there some left? The hour is late and I will be dreaming of the biscotti with morning coffee!

  11. Oh, the warmth that exudes through your comments, thank you guys!

    Joey, my sweet, you're in luck, there's still some biscotti left; I hid it in the freezer to avoid temptation. So hop on your snowmobile and come on over!

  12. WOW! I think this is one of the most beautiful desserts I've ever seen. It truly looks glorious. I will dare to try your yummy recipe, though I'm sure it will not look nearly as gorgeous as yours.


  13. Nancy, you're being modest. All you would have to do is wave your magic wand and the world instantly becomes a better (and prettier) place.

  14. Wow, panna cotta to the brim :) best!

  15. The orange is intriguing...

    It's just beautiful and simple like any good dessert should be..

    Well done!~

  16. I love pannacota, but never had it with orange...yours sure look very elegant and must taste SO SO good. Great pictures as well :-)

  17. Oh that is so beautiful and looks delicious!

    Another work of art Sol.

    Abrazos, Sharon.

  18. Thank you all very kindly!

    Sharon, mas abrazos para tí.

  19. Thanks for the kind words! Have a lovely weekend!


    Rosa xoxo

  20. I love the idea of serving this with biscotti to give it a crunch on the side! A gorgeous looking panna cotta Marysol. You are so creative! :D

  21. Oh this is beautiful.

    Thanks for stopping by. You have a lovely blog. Can't wait to explore.

  22. Your Panna Cotta looks gorgeous and inviting. Love the touch of orange in both recipes :)

  23. Thank you all very kindly!

  24. Yum! Your Panna Cotta looks incredible! And the presentation is perfect, too. I agree that the orange peel needs a touch of spice to balance it. I make an orange-ginger biscotti, and can't wait to try it with the fennel seed.

    I'm visiting from The Old Kitchen. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Panna cotta is one of my favorite all time desserts! I know orange would be wonder paired with it! It's beautiful!

  26. Thank you! Hope you'll try the Panna Cotta.

  27. I love the biscotti recipe! How lovely. I just ordered some online but really should just make my own! Nice finding your blog. So lovely.

  28. I love this panna cotta but most of all, I love your extremely beautiful photos!

  29. I have been perusing many of your posts and have enjoyed everyone! Everything looks lovely everywhere I look :)

    Awesome blog!

    Kindly, Lorraine