Laura Cassai’s Chocolate & Blood Orange Panna Cotta

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Panna cotta, meaning cooked cream, is a lovely traditional Italian dessert – and here it showcases the beautiful combination of chocolate, orange and hazelnut. Panna cotta is a great dessert to show off with at a dinner party for your friends, and can be made the night before too.

Ingredients
For the panda cotta:
2 gold-strength gelatine leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons gelatine powder, dissolved in 60 ml of boiling water
660ml thickened cream
40g caster sugar
220g milk chocolate, chopped finely

For the blood orange jelly:
400ml blood orange juice
4 gold-strength gelatine leaves or 4 teaspoons gelatine powder

For the blood orange curd:
2 eggs
230g caster sugar
1 blood orange, finely zested
80ml blood orange juice
125g unsalted butter, cubed

For the hazelnut crumb:
110g hazelnut meal
75g plain flour
115g caster sugar
95g soft brown sugar
100g unsalted butter, melted

To garnish:
strawberries, halved and whole
raspberries, halved and whole
blood orange, segmented, membrane removed

Method
1 For the panna cotta, soak the gelatine leaves in ice-cold water until soft, about 5–10 minutes. When it’s time to add to the panna cotta mixture, squeeze the excess water out of the gelatine leaves first. If you’re using gelatine powder instead, dissolve the powder in the boiling water.
2 To make the blood orange jelly, pour the juice into a saucepan and set over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer, remove from the heat, add the gelatine and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool.
3 Pass through a sieve, and pour equal amounts into six 150 ml dariole moulds. Set in the fridge on a tray for about 45 minutes. To speed up the process, place in the freezer for 10 minutes until set.
4 To make the panna cotta, pour the cream and sugar into a saucepan and set over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer, remove from the heat, add the chopped chocolate and whisk until it is all combined. Add the gelatine and stir until dissolved. Strain through a fine sieve and allow to cool slightly.
5 Pour over the already set blood orange jelly, then place back in the fridge to set for about 4 hours. Note: The panna cotta can be made the day before and set overnight.
6 To make the blood orange curd, set up a double boiler. Add the eggs and sugar and whisk until slightly thickened and creamy. Add the blood orange zest and juice and continue to whisk for about 10–15 minutes until the mixture thickens.
7 Once thickened, add the butter cubes one at a time until glossy and all incorporated. Leave to cool, then refrigerate.
8 Preheat the oven to 220°C. For the hazelnut crumb, mix the hazelnut meal, flour, both sugars and the melted butter in a bowl until all combined. Spread on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 20–25 minutes until golden and crunchy. Check the crumb every 10 minutes and turn the mixture over to ensure nothing is burning.
9 When it’s time to serve, transfer the panna cotta from the moulds onto serving plates, add the curd and crumb, and garnish with fresh berries and blood orange segments.

Recipe courtesy of Laura Cassai, extracted from My Italian Kitchen.

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