Yogurt Panna Cotta Flecked with Vanilla Bean
Panna cotta, which means “cooked cream” in Italian, is an ethereal dessert that traditionally consists of cream and milk set very softly with gelatin. This lightened version uses tangy yogurt in place of the cream. It’s delicious on its own or accompanied with a sweet-tart winter fruit preserve like this pomegranate-orange compote.
For the pomegranate-orange compote (optional):
- 2 1/2 lb. oranges or tangelos
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
For the panna cotta:
- 2 tsp. (1-oz. envelope) unflavored gelatin
- 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 strips orange zest, each 2 to 3 inches long
- 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
- Vegetable oil for ramekins
To make the compote, using a sharp knife, cut the peel and pith from the oranges. Working over a bowl, cut between the membranes to release the orange segments and juices into the bowl. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, lemon juice and water and bring to a boil. Remove the syrup from the heat and pour over the oranges. Refrigerate, then stir in the pomegranate seeds.
To make the panna cotta, in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup of the milk. Let stand without stirring until the gelatin is moistened, about 10 minutes.
Pour the remaining 1 cup milk into a small saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk, then add the bean pod, sugar and the orange zest. Set the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
Add the gelatin mixture to the saucepan and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Let cool until lukewarm, about 10 minutes, then remove the bean pod and orange zest. Whisk in the yogurt until well blended.
Lightly brush the insides of six 6-oz. ramekins or small bowls with oil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Divide the yogurt mixture evenly among the prepared ramekins. Cover and refrigerate until set, at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.
To serve, gently run a knife between the panna cotta and the sides of the ramekins to loosen. Place a plate over each ramekin and, holding the plate and ramekin together, invert and remove the ramekin. Spoon the compote over each panna cotta, drizzling the plate with its juice. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Eat Well, by Charity Ferreira (Oxmoor House, 2008).