Blood Orange Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Compote

The panna cotta part of this recipe is incredible quick and easy to make – and it's delicious on its own. Add a blood orange compote and it's absolutely stunning. The compote involves a little fancy knifework – freeing the citrus segments from their membranes to form what's known as suprèmes. (Serious Eats has a good how-to; scroll to the end to find it.) Or you can simply peel the orange and cut it into slices: That would be just as delicious.

If you want to unmold the panna cotta onto dessert plates or shallow bowls, be sure to lightly oil the custard cups and leave enough time (about 6 hours) for the panna cotta to set up completely). If you don't have custard cups, you can use tea cups. Otherwise, if you have less time or like the visuals better, serve them in wine goblets or dessert glasses, and spoon the compote on top. Both are pretty gorgeous.

I like panna cotta that's very soft and trembly. If you like yours a little firmer, add an extra half-teaspoon of gelatin. 

Serves 6-8, depending on the size of your custard cups and how full you fill them.

Ingredients

For the panna cotta

Canola or other neutral cooking oil for oiling the custard cups (if you plan to unmold them)

1 cup strained fresh blood orange juice (from 3 - 5 blood oranges, depending how juicy they are)

3 teaspoons powdered gelatin

3/4 cup sugar (or a little less if your blood oranges are super-flavorful and tangy)

2 cups half-and-half

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon orange liqueur (such as Grand Marinier or Cointreau) or vanilla extract

For the compote (optional)

6 blood oranges, plus one or two extras in case you don't have enough juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon Cognac or other brandy, or orange liqueur

Instructions

1. If you plan to unmold the panna cotta, use the canola oil to lightly oil the insides of 6 to 8 custard cups or tea cups. 

2. Pour the blood orange juice into a medium saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the surface and let it stand for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, set the pan over low heat and and whisk it all to combine it completely, continuing to whisk until the sugar is dissolved, about three minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool about 10 minutes.

3. Add the half-and-half, the cream and the orange liqueur or vanilla to the pot, and whisk or stir to combine well. Pour the mixture into the custard cups, then refrigerate them (no need to cover them) until set, about 6 hours if you plan to unmold them.

4. Meanwhile, make the compote, if using. To cut the blood oranges into suprèmes, place a blood orange on a cutting board, and slice a little off the stem end and opposite end, creating flat spots so the orange can stand flat on the board. Use a sharp paring knife to slice off all the the peel and pith of the orange, following the curve of the fruit, until it is completely feel of peel, pith and outer membrane. Now cut the orange into suprèmes or slices. For slices, cut the oranges into 5/8-inch slices, then quarter the slices. To make suprèmes, pick up a blood orange with one hand, hold it over a bowl to catch the juices, and use the knife to free the segments from the membranes. Place all the suprèmes in a second bowl and squeeze the membrane-skeleton into the juice bowl, capturing the rest of the juice. Repeat with the rest of the oranges. 

5. Now you need 1/2 cup of blood orange juice, which you probably already have if you cut suprèmes. If necessary, squeeze another blood orange or two to yield 1/2 cup of juice (measure it after you've removed the pits). Pour the blood orange juice into a small saucepan, add the lemon juice and sugar, bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook it, stirring frequently, until it is reduced and syrupy, about 6 or 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the Cognac, brandy or orange liqueur. Let cool slightly, the pour the syrup over the blood orange supremes. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

6. To serve (if you're unmolding the panna cottas), run a small, sharp knife around the inside of each custard cup and invert it onto a plate, letting the panna cotta fall onto it. Repeat for the rest, then divide the blood orange compote (with its juices) onto each. If you're not unmolding the panna cotta, simply spoon some of the compote into each glass, including the juice, and serve.