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Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Confit Panna Cotta

Winter desserts blush in the presence of citrus’s most colorful star

Photograph by Jessica Boone

Blood oranges are the sexpots of the cold-weather fruits. Tear off a strip of the smooth peel to reveal a flushed interior the color of lipstick—or a good steak. Its sweet acidity turns luscious when combined with cream, as Rory Herrmann, executive chef at Bouchon in Beverly Hills, well knows. His simple buttermilk panna cotta takes a seductive turn with a bright topping of blood orange confit. The result smacks of a Creamsicle with a tart, wintery bite. 

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Confit Panna Cotta

2 tablespoons cold water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1½ cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar
1½ teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
3 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Spray 8  ½-cup ramekins with nonstick spray. Measure water into a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand 5 minutes to soften gelatin. Bring cream, sugar, and lemon zest to a gentle simmer in a heavy medium saucepan. Remove saucepan from heat. Add softened gelatin and stir until gelatin dissolves. Cool slightly and stir in buttermilk and vanilla extract. Divide mixture evenly among prepared ramekins. Chill until set, about 6 hours. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

Blood Orange Confit

6 blood oranges
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar

Using a serrated knife, cut away peel and pith from oranges. Carefully cut alongside membranes to release segments. Place segments in a medium bowl. Squeeze juice from membranes into a heavy small saucepan. Add water and sugar to orange juice. Bring juice mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Pour hot juice mixture over orange segments. Cool to room temperature. 

Unmold panna cotta if desired and serve with confit.