But as desserts go, they are pretty impressive and yet incredibly simple - 15mins to make and then they just need to sit, covered, in the fridge getting cool until you need them. The recipe below creates enough for 4-6 depending on your Dariol moulds. My Dariol's are 39x 67mm and take 90ml of liquid, you can go much larger than this if you wish but really to me, this is the perfect size. If you don't have Dariol moulds which you can pick up in any good cook shop, then Ramekins are just as good, although I find they are harder to remove the Panna Cotta from.
Ingredients for Panna Cotta
3 gelatine leaves
250ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
Ingredients for Caramel Orange Sauce
6 x Fresh Oranges for juicing
(you will need the zest of 2 x oranges for decoration)
2tbsp unsalted butter
Now take out your thick bottomed pan, pour in the milk, cream and sugar into a pan. You also need to add your vanilla pod but before you do, split down the middle and with the back of a table knife, run it along the fleshy inside to scrap out the vanilla seeds. Put all the seeds and the pod/husk into the milk, cream and sugar liquid and bring to a simmer slowly.
Whilst your liquid is simmering, squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves, then add to the pan. Super important to take the pan off the heat before you add the gelatine. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved and then remove the vanilla pod. Lots of people simply discard the pod at this point, personally I like to gently rinse and then dry before putting into the sugar tub - it gives a hint of vanilla to the sugar.
You need to place your dariol moulds/ramekins on one single baking try - easiest way to transport to the fridge, and pour the mixture among the four - six moulds and leave to cool on the side for about 10mins. Then when they are no longer steaming, place into the fridge until set which is around FOUR hours.
This setting time, conveniently gives you plenty of time to crack on with the Orange Caramel Sauce.
This is a bit of a cheats Caramel Sauce and does tend to be a little darker than other Caramel Sauces because water isn't being used. Start by zesting two oranges and then juicing all six oranges. You will need the zest for later as a decoration, so put in a relevant pot and cover, setting aside for later. Make sure you keep juice from the oranges in a jug, as you need an easy to pour from vessel when the time comes.
To start, tip the sugar into a non-stick pan, then place on the heat, keep on a medium heat and once the sugar until it is all dissolved. Up to the point when the sugar is dissolving, you can stir occasionally but very definitely, don't stir again once all the sugar is dissolved, as it will create crystals which you don't want in your caramel sauce. Once the sugar gets to an amber colour (or darker if you want to but this will be at a risk of burning the sugar) pour in the orange juice – this will make the caramel harden, so just simmer on a low heat, stirring, until it’s dissolved to a syrupy consistency.
Remove from the heat, mix in the butter to give the sauce a lovely shine and set aside. I normally reheat quickly before I serve the sauce - microwave is fine for about 1minute. When it comes to serve the dish, get a small teacup of hot water (not boiled) set next to the plates then take the panna cotta out of the fridge, slide a table knife around the top edge of the mould and dip very briefly the mould into the hot water to loosen. Tip the panna cotta into the plate and put a pinch of the orange zest into the centre to add colour - serve and let your guests or family pour over the sticky caramel sauce, to their own design and quantity!