Blood Orange Panna Cotta

Here’s a dessert I’ve never written about but has been a favourite of mine since I first learned to make it in a small bistro kitchen: Panna Cotta. Ironically, it was a French chef who taught me this classic Italian dessert, during my short stint as a pastry chef in my twentes.

I’ve always loved the Panna Cotta for it simplicity. It was one of the items on my daily prep list that I could breeze through and let my mind drift out of the cramped kitchen in the process. I’d open carton after carton of heavy cream, warm it slowly with sugar and vanilla bean and then whisk the hot cream into bloomed gelatine. From there I would pour the vanilla-scented cream into dozens and dozens of martini glasses and set them on racks in the refrigerator to chill.

I could then forget about them until the dessert orders came pouring in around eight in the evening, when I would send the Panna Cotta out, garnished with a fresh ground cherry. It’s a restaurant dessert that still tempts me ever time, even though it is so simple to make.

The other night I couldn’t get the thought of Panna Cotta out of my head. My throat had been sore all week and everything was irritating it further; I wanted to spoon up something cool, something creamy, and something sweet.

In the refrigerator I had both whole cream and citrus on hand, so before long I was softening the gelatine and zesting blood oranges. Panna Cotta could wait no longer.


blood orange panna cotta

Panna Cotta, is called the perfect dessert by some, and I tend to agree – but only when it is made properly. It  should wobble delicately when shaken. It should have that movement and not be too stiff like jello. Most of all, I think it should be rich and creamy.

In this recipe, I’ve eliminated the white sugar and use pure maple syrup as sweetener. It plays beautifully with the slightly bitter flavour of the blood orange zest.

Panna Cotta can set in as few as four hours, but one of the qualities of this dessert is that is can be made ahead of time, so it’s very well suited to dinner parties or Sunday dinner. Danny and I spooned ours up for a recent date night in, a rare occasion when we reserve our dinnertime for those quiet hours when the children are asleep in bed. It was a restaurant quality dessert enjoyed without the price tag.

You should also know that the sky is the limit when it comes to serving the Panna Cotta. You can pour it in any sort of vessel to set, from a pretty Weck jar to coupe champagne glasses, as I have done. It’s especially pretty when shaped into a heart using a silicone molds like Allie has done.

Maple-Sweetened Blood Orange Panna Cotta

Cool and creamy, sweet and slightly bitter, this is a simple yet sophisticated dessert for two.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: Italian
Essential Ingredient: Blood Orange
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 445kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 3/4 cup whole cream
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk (organic if possible)
  • 1 teaspoon gelatine
  • 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup


  • In a small sauce pot, gently heat cream over medium-low heat. Do not boil. Zest in the rind of both oranges.
  • Turn off heat, cover with a lid and infuse for 10 minutes.
  • In a small mixing bowl, sprinkle the gelatine over the milk. Let stand for 5 minutes until the gelatine blooms (begins to dissolve and become opaque). Stir well.
  • Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the hot, orange infused cream into the milk. Whisk well to fully dissolve the gelatine.
  • Pour in the maple syrup and whisk again. Let mixture cool to room temperature, then give one final whisk and pour into two 1 -cup ramekins, 250mL jars, or champagne coupes, as I did.
  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or over night.


Calories: 445kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 82mg | Potassium: 281mg | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 1430IU | Vitamin C: 7.4mg | Calcium: 202mg
About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. I just love panna cotta. It was always on the menu at the french restaurant I worked at too! So elegant and simple. I’m totally digging the addition of the blood orange flavoring here!

  2. Panna cotta is one of those things that I’ve been stupidly scared about making at home in case it turns out too rubber-y or doesn’t set at all but this looks and sound so lovely that I think I’m going to need to try it!

  3. I love how simple the ingredient list yet it looks absolutely decadent! I’ve never tried making this at home but now I must.

  4. I love how simple and short the ingredient list is. And thanks for the sub for maple syrup for white sugar. I’m definitely adding this my “try soon” list as I’ve never had Panna Cotta before.

  5. A recipe I’ve always wanted to try but haven’t known where to start or a good recipe. This looks fantastic and totally doable. Trying it for our next date night in!

  6. 5 stars
    Panna Cotta is delish! I love this recipe 🙂

  7. this looks good!

  8. Britt Henesy says

    5 stars
    Made this yesterday. So delicious! This might have to be my new favorite dessert. Yum!

  9. I’ve never made a panna cotta before but I really am dying too after seeing this post. I just love the blood orange flavour & your presentation of it!

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