The heaps of gray, shadowy, wet days and Winter’s chill have left me with a sweet longing for Summer. At the market, I seem to gravitate toward citrus; the shiny orbs of Cara Cara pink navels, with their pink-hued flesh and pucker-y sweetness; the kumquat, with its deceptively-sweet peel and shockingly sour insides; the crimson flesh and clean bright taste of blood oranges..mmm. And so to nurture my creative side as well as satisfy a roaring sweet tooth, I drew upon citrus as inspiration.
Often, I do my best creative work while running. That may seem odd to some, however I’ve found that running serves as an outlet not only for expending physical energy, it is a catalyst for new ideas. These seedlings are kneaded and churned about as I navigate urban trails and sidewalks; often as the sun is just starting to make its presence known. I see flavors and textures come together, then the vision takes form, and I’m off to the store, list in hand.
I recalled a luxuriously silky buttermilk panna cotta I’d made this summer that involved steeping lavender buds and vanilla beans in buttermilk and cream. That fragrance! The buttermilk added a nice perky bit of tart, fooling the palate and masking some of the richness of the butterfat. A friend of mine with whom I’ve shared several meals over the years said it was probably the best dessert they’d had. A high complement, for sure!
And so this weekend, with citrus on my mind, I came up with not one, but two desserts to share. Neither of them yield instant gratification, however if you are willing to set aside an afternoon, I assure that dessert will be stunning. The honey panna cotta has only the faintest hint of rosemary and marries nicely with the orange zest. The cookies are based off a classic French butter cookie, the sablé. They make a perfect tea cookie; lightly scented with almond and the essential oils of orange zest. I recommend using unsalted European butter, if you can find it, as European butter has a higher fat content that is fabulous in baked goods.
Of course, cookies are always good for sharing, so I managed to set aside a few for a neighbor.
Enjoy, and much love.
Honey Panna Cotta with Rosemary and Orange
*For simple syrup, combine honey and orange juice in small saucepan over medium heat; stir and allow to bubble softly for ~ 5minutes. remove from heat. Reserve and pour over panna cotta prior to serving.
Orange Almond Sablé
- In a small bowl, mix orange zest with granulated sugar until fragrant. Add powdered sugar and sea salt to combine
- In a stand mixer, cream butter. Add sugar and mix to combine.
- Add egg yolks and almond extract; beat until incorporated
- Lastly, add flour. Mix only until pastry forms a cohesive mass; this is reminiscent of pie pastry; you’ll want the end result to be light and crumbly
- Form dough into two, 9-inch logs, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours (at least 3)
- When ready to bake. preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper
- Remove dough from refrigerator, brush logs with egg yolk and granulated sugar.
- Using a sharp knife; slice into 1/3 to 1/2-inch rounds.
- Bake 15-20 minutes; longer if the cookies are on the thicker side. Cookies are ready when the bottom and sides are golden; the tops should remain pale.
Allow to rest for a couple of minutes on cookie sheet, then remove to cool completely on wire rack