During the winter months in Michigan, you’re hard pressed to find the variety of fruits you see throughout the warmer summer months, particularly tree fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries and the like.
What you DO see in abundance are citrus fruits, which most often come to us from the southern states, in particular Florida and Texas, and from California on the West Coast.
And while most of us enjoy citrus fruits for breakfast or in salads, juiced, or just eating out of hand, one particular citrus fruit, the blood orange, is more and more finding its way into desserts and premium mixed drinks for a number of reasons.
- They’re super sweet, very juicy and less acidic than most oranges.
- They have an awesome, rich orange/ruby red color, which holds up when other ingredients are added in.
- They have a wonderful perfume.
The blood orange is a hybrid of ancient Sicilian origin, possibly between the pomelo and the tangerine.
The three most common types of blood oranges are the Tarocco (native to Italy), the Sanguinello (native to Spain), and the Moro, the newest variety of the three.
The distinctive, dark flesh color is due to the presence of anthocyanin, a pigment common to many flowers and fruit but uncommon in citrus fruits.
This recipe, Panna Cotta with Blood Oranges, combines oranges with chocolate, one of orange’s most natural flavor pairings.
Blood Orange Panna Cotta: Makes 6 Servings
3 Cups Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp Fresh Orange Peels
1 Cup Fresh-Squeezed Blood Orange Juice
1/2 Vanilla Bean, Split
3 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
12 Blood Orange Segments, Fresh
1 Tbsp Unflavored Gelatin
To Garnish Chocolate Shavings
- Sprinkle gelatin over 3 Tbsp of the orange juice and let it stand for about 10 minutes without stirring. This is to soften the gelatin.
- In a saucepan, add cream, sugar, vanilla bean, orange peel and the rest of the orange juice. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Taste and add more sugar if needed.
- When the cream is heated through and starts simmering, turn off the stove. Add the softened gelatin mixture and stir well to combine. Make sure the gelatin is completely dissolved.
- Pass the cooked cream mixture through a fine sieve to remove the orange peels and the vanilla pods.
- Pour the mixture into six ramekins or dessert bowls.
- Chill uncovered in the refrigerator for about 3 hours or overnight.
- Before serving, dip the cups in hot water for a few seconds. Pass a thin knife through the edges to separate the Panna Cotta from the cup, and then turn the cup onto the dessert plates.
- Garnish with shaved chocolate swirls and the blood orange segments. Note: If mixture is poured into shallow ramekins, dessert can be left in the dish and garnished accordingly.