Orange Cardamom-Scented Panna Cotta with Salted Caramel

I’ve been making vanilla panna cotta since I first had it in Italy many years ago.  When I started cooking Indian food, I decided to add cinnamon, orange, and cardamom to my panna cotta recipe, and it’s now my favorite!  The salted caramel on top just adds a depth of perfection, and it’s a great dessert to make for a crowd.

Main ingredients:
1 tbsp. powdered unflavored gelatin
3 tbsp. water
4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 orange, using only the peel, cut in large strips
1 cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods


In a small bowl, combine the water and gelatin and let soak about 10 minutes (do not stir).  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the cream, orange peel, cinnamon, cardamom pods, and sugar to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.  As soon as it simmers, turn off the heat and add the gelatin mixture, stirring with a whisk to dissolve the gelatin.  If the gelatin doesn’t completely dissolve in three minutes, return the mixture to the heat and warm gently until dissolved.  Let sit without heat for 15 minutes for flavors to develop.  Remove the orange peel, cinnamon, and cardamom and discard.  Pour the mixture into 6 to 8 ramekins or dessert cups.  Chill, uncovered, two hours.

To serve the panna cotta, dip the cups in hot water for ten seconds, then turn them out onto dessert plates (or serve in the cups).  Cover with salted caramel and garnish with an orange segment and chopped nuts, if desired.

Salted Caramel Sauce:

2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Add all ingredients except vanilla in a heavy saucepan and heat over medium-high burner.  Heat until sugar is melted and then caramel simmer for 3 minutes.  Bring pan off heat and let cool for 10 minutes.  Stir in vanilla and enjoy right away or let cool and store in refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.

DessertIzza Wei-Haas