Almond Panna Cotta with Clementine Sauce

Clementines, mandarins and oranges.  I love these citrus fruits when winter comes.  They're like the sunshine that's rarely present during these cold months.  They give color and life to the table.  And for that, I use them a lot in my dishes, whether they are savory or sweet.  However strange it might sound, I like my food looking bright and lively because I like feasting with my eyes first.

This clementine panna cotta had been in my mind since last winter.  With so many recipes to try, it got buried deep in my very long list of recipes until I remembered it again this week.  I have A LOT of clementines and oranges at home at the moment.  Oranges because I like waking up to a cup of espresso and a spremuta d'arancia (freshly squeezed orange juice).  I also add some clementines to my spremuta.  It gives a pleasant edge to the juice. 

As you should already know if you have been following my recipes, I am not your regular dairy-lover person.  Truth is, I really cannot stand the smell and taste of milk and cream.  For that reason, I never ate panna cotta in my life until last winter when I made and enjoyed my first panna cotta with frutti di bosco (berries) where I started using almond milk in place of cow's milk and light cream in place of the full cream.  And a whole new world opened up for me.

This is the second panna cotta recipe that I created and I am really pleased with the outcome.  You can't possibly fail with the combination of the rich flavors of clementine, vanilla and almonds with a very light touch of mint.  

To enjoy the balance of the flavors, serve the panna cotta with just the right amount of clementine sauce so that it doesn't overpower the delicate flavor of the panna cotta.  You would still want to taste the vanilla and almond hints in the panna cotta.  Overall, this dessert hit me and my husband well.  We finished all six panna cotta in one sitting immediately after the photo shoot.  Not a single one made it for dessert after dinner.  Watch out, it's addictive.  

Buon appetito!

Almond Panna Cotta with Clementine Sauce

Yields 6 in cupcake molds
  • 250 ml. cream (for the panna cotta) + 2 tablespoons (for the sauce)
  • 250 ml. almond milk
  • 30 g. sugar
  • 2 teaspoons agar agar powder (equivalent to 2 tablespoons agar agar flakes or 2 teaspoons gelatin powder)
  • 1 vanilla pod split open, seeds scraped out with the tip of a knife
  • zest from 3 untreated clementines
  • 1/4 cup clementine juice (squeezed from 2 clementines)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tablespoons clementine liqueur (can be replaced with mandarin or orange liqueur)
  • fresh mint leaves for garnishing (optional)
  1. Pour cream & almond milk in a small saucepan.  Add 30 g. sugar and vanilla seeds.  Cook on low flame until it starts to boil gently.  
  2. Add in agar agar.  Whisk well until it completely dissolves.  Whisk for a minute in the fire then turn it off.  If you encounter lumps even if you whisked continuously, strain the liquid to get rid of the lumps.  
  3. Add grated zest of one clementine.  Mix well.
  4. Pour mixture in individual molds.  I used silicone molds which were so easy to use. When the panna cotta were to be taken out of them, they practically slid out without giving any problems. 
  5. Let them cool for at least two hours in the fridge until they set.
  6. For the sauce, put water and sugar in a small saucepan.  Let it boil then simmer for 5 minutes in medium flame.  Add liqueur.  Let the alcohol evaporate, around 2 minutes.
  7. Add clementine juice.  Cook for 3 minutes.
  8. Add 2 tablespoons cream.  Mix well.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  Let cool.
  9. Before serving the panna cotta, pour about a tablespoon and a half of the sauce on top.  Garnish with mint leaves and clementine zest.