Orange & vanilla panna cotta

Did you know that an orange takes over 6 months to grow from blossom to ripe fruit? There's something so special about homegrown produce, and I think it's totally rockin' that my Nan grows and harvests tens of kilos of oranges in her own back yard every year. Nan's navel oranges are the sweetest out there, and her two orange trees are well established. I remember looking up at them with wonder as a kid, and my Mum remembers growing up with them. Sometimes, Nan reports a slower season than usual, but when she visits she always brings an extra suitcase full of navels for us to enjoy. So when Nan visited recently with plenty of oranges, I decided to make something special with them. Inspired by my Dad's awesome panna cotta making skills, I made this orange & vanilla panna cotta. It's luxurious, sweet and simple - perfect for the warm spring that is upon us.

What you'll need:
Panna cotta:
1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
2 cups thickened cream
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons gelatine

2 oranges
1/3 cup caster sugar

What to do:
Begin by making the panna cotta. Zest an orange using a zester or vegetable peeler, avoiding any white pith.

Place the zest in a saucepan with the cream, vanilla and sugar. Heat over medium heat and, stirring continuously, bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve into a heat-proof bowl. Discard leftover rind.

Meanwhile, combine the gelatine with 2 tablespoons of water and stir to combine. Heat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds, or until the relative dissolves and the mixture is clear.

Add the gelatine to the cream mixture and whisk until it stops steaming. Share mixture between 4-6 ramekins or jelly moulds and place on a tray. Cover the panna cottas and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight until set.

Before serving, make the syrup. Juice the oranges and combine in a small saucepan with the sugar. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to the boil. Once boiling, reduce heat slightly and cook until the mixture reduces by half. 

To remove set panna cottas, dip the moulds into a bowl of hot water for 5-10 seconds. Run a butter knife around the edge of the mould and turn out onto a plate. Serve with syrup and fresh orange segments.