There’s something rather glorious about the flavours you find in Mediterranean cuisine. To those of us brought up on the standard ‘meat and three veg’ type meals, such flavours can truly be an eye-opener (or tastebud-opener, as the case may be).
This recipe, which takes its inspiration from Turkey, is one of those dishes that truly awakens the senses. Not only does it look spectacular with its vibrant palette of white, orange and green, but it has a distinctive and surprising blend of flavours – from the burnt honey and sour yoghurt panna cotta itself, to the tangy apricots doused in a lemon and orange blossom syrup. This is most definitely a dish to savour.
Thanks to House & Garden.co.uk for this fabulous recipe. I didn’t adapt it at all and was really happy with the result. It may not be to everyone’s taste with its strong flavourings, but if you’re game to try something a little different from the standard dessert fare then I’m sure you’ll love it. Enjoy!
BURNT HONEY & YOGHURT PANNA COTTA WITH APRICOTS IN ORANGE BLOSSOM SYRUP
Ingredients: (This recipe uses metric measurements. Click here for Unit Converter)
For the Panna Cotta
- 6 tablespoons runny honey
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 15g gelatin sheets (3 titanium strength sheets/4 gold strength sheets)
- 150ml double cream
- 150ml milk
- 375g Greek yoghurt (very thick)
For the apricots
- 225g granulated sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon (kept separate) and juice of 1/2 lemon (kept separate)
- 1 broad strip of lemon peel
- 750g apricots, halved and stoned
- 3 teaspoons orange blossom water, or to taste
- 15g roughly chopped shelled pistachios (can be toasted)
For the panna cotta:
- Put the honey in a small saucepan and bring to the boil (it will foam up as it cooks). Cook at a moderate heat until the honey caramelises* (see note below). The colour darkens to a dark reddish-brown but it is the caramelised smell that will tell you when it’s at the right point – usually it’s around 5 minutes. Immediately take the pan off the heat and add the orange juice. Stir until the mixture is smooth. Let this cool completely.
- Put the gelatin into enough cold water to cover it and soak for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the cream and the milk together till it’s warm, not hot.
- Squeeze all the water out of the softened gelatin and add the gelatin to the warm cream. Stir to dissolve and let the cream cool somewhat, but don’t let it go absolutely cold and start to set.
- Stir the cream and gelatin into the yoghurt. Add the honey and stir to combine (it will go a light caramel colour).
- Divide the mixture between 6 x 150ml moulds and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight (for a firmer set).
For the apricots: (These are best prepared on serving day)
- Put the sugar, the juice of 1 lemon and the lemon peel with 600ml water in a saucepan or fry-pan (skillet) large enough to hold all the fruit, preferably in a single layer. Heat gently, stirring a little to help the sugar dissolve (don’t let the mixture start to colour though, or it will end up as toffee. If that happens, simply add in a little hot water to dilute the mixture).
- Add the apricots and poach, barely simmering, until just tender. This could take 5 minutes or 15, depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Lift them out with a slotted spoon as they become tender (they should still hold their shape) – some always cook more quickly than others – and lay them on a tray lined with wax baking paper in a single layer to cool. Discard the lemon peel.
- Put the poaching liquid back on the heat and boil until the liquid has reduced to about 250-300ml (or until it thickens slightly into a syrup – this may not take long at all). Leave the syrup to cool completely.** Gradually add the rest of the lemon juice, tasting as you go, until you have a syrup that is sweet but fresh. Add 2 teaspoons of the orange blossom water, then taste the syrup to see if you want to use more, as brands vary in strength.
- Remove the panna cottas from the fridge. Gently pull the edges of the panna cotta away from the moulds gently with your fingers (alternatively, can also insert a sharp knife around the outsides of the panna cotta). Dip the panna cotta moulds one by one in just-boiled water for a few seconds, then immediately invert each onto a plate and give a shake to slide the panna cotta out. (If you prefer a creamier panna cotta, dip them in hot water for half a minute or so, invert, and then leave on the plate to lose their chill for about 10-15 minutes).
- Spoon some of the apricots alongside, scatter with chopped pistachios and drizzle over some of the syrup.
*The honey foams up as it boils and it’s hard to see when it caramelizes. I found the best way to check it is to dip a teaspoon into the mixture every minute or so and drop a droplet onto a white plate. You’ll see it progressively change from light amber to a deep copper colour.
**Keep an eye on the syrup as it cools. My syrup started to firm up like a soft toffee after about 10 minutes, so I quickly boiled some water and added in a couple of teaspoons and stirred well, ensuring it remained a syrup.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Canon 50mm 1.8 lens / Natural lighting