I’m not what you would call a Valentine’s Day person. This is well documented, so I won’t spend much time on the subject. But the take-home point is I’m not so much about the Valentine’s Day. But nauseating over-the-top declarations of love aside, there are things I like about this exceptionally strange day. For example, I am fond of glitter, cheesy puns, and the color pink, all of which hit peak popularity around February 14th. Oh, and I love a pretty, romantic dessert. Something elegant and rich that borders on too gorgeous to eat. Not unlike this Blood Orange Panna Cotta Tart. I’ll take any excuse to make a stunner like this even if it takes the form of a bullcrap “love” holiday dreamed up by capitalists in their desperate bid for infinite financial progress. But anyway…
Have you ever made a dessert you couldn’t bear to cut into? Have you ever made a dessert you couldn’t bear to have someone else cut into on your behalf? Because this Blood Orange Panna Cotta Tart did that to me. And I’ll have you know, I am not sentimental about my desserts. I believe that cakes, even if they’re ginned-up to look like something completely inedible, are meant to be eaten. And eaten messily – if at all possible. But I have a thing about gelatin desserts. I’m admittedly pretty meh about the taste but visually I find them absolutely arresting.
The False Promises of Jello
I remember being drawn to a small glass bowl filled with electric blue Jello at a dessert buffet at a wedding I attended when I was 8-years-old. The color is what drew me in first. I was still in that pocket of childhood where artificial colors spoke to me more than chocolate. And the dollop of whipped cream that sat on the surface of the Jello looked like it would’ve been right home on a Cool Whip label. Its artificial perfection was too much for my 8-year-old-self to resist, so I snatched it up and I remember viscerally the disappointment that followed. With that first bite, I knew I’d made the wrong choice. This was not a dessert worth eating and, to this day, I feel that way about Jello and Jello-like substances. Or at least I felt that way until I made Rhubarb Panna Cotta.
The Rhubarb Panna Cotta started out as simply that – rhubarb-flavored panna cotta. But thanks to the panna cotta eye-candy I scoped out on Pinterest, I got the idea to add a gelée to the surface of my dessert. I was hesitant, given my feelings about gelatine desserts, but I went ahead, convincing myself the homemade rhubarb syrup I was using as the base would make all the difference and it did!
In the Rhubarb Panna Cottas I found what I had been looking for – the appropriate amount of Jello to creamy dessert ratio. A thin layer of naturally flavored gelée not only delivered the look I had so ardently fallen for at that wedding, but it also tasted like rhubarb at full volume. When I made the Rhubarb Panna Cotta, I was convinced this was a dessert I would make again and again. But for some reason, I didn’t until this Blood Orange Panna Cotta Tart happened.
Blood Orange Panna Cotta Tart
This Blood Orange Panna Cotta Tart follows a lot of the same steps as the Rhubarb Panna Cotta but with one very important variation – the Oreo Cookie Crust. Yes, I know, I said the Rhubarb Panna Cotta was perfect, so why add the crust? Because it’s Valentine’s Day. And you can’t call a dessert a Valentine’s Day dessert unless it has some chocolate somewhere. Although, I’m hesitant to call this tart a Valentine’s Day dessert at all because, well, how limiting.
The Oreo cookie crust adds a lot to this recipe in terms of flavor. But in terms of workload, it is blissfully self-sufficient. You don’t even need to remove the cream filling from the Oreo cookies. The filling gets put to good use as an additional binding ingredient along with the melted butter. From there, this crust is a pat-in-pan sort of situation. Honestly, there isn’t a more welcome tart crust out there. Simple to make and no one can say no to an Oreo. No one!
Now, for the most important part: What does this Blood Orange Panna Cotta Tart taste like? Well, it tastes like a mellower, creamier Terry’s Chocolate Orange. And for that, I am grateful because I don’t like Terry’s Chocolate Orange. I know, I know. A lot of people love those chocolate fruits. But I blame the Terry’s Chocolate Orange and those weird fruit creams you get in tins of Quality Street and boxes of Pot Of Gold for ruining the chocolate/orange combo for me. I can safely say, that while I won’t be enjoying a Pot of Gold fruit cream anytime soon, I did very sincerely enjoy this tart. It was a major step forward for me and my relationship with the chocolate/orange flavor combo.
And that’s everything you need to know about this Blood Orange Panna Cotta Tart with Blood Orange Gelée. It’s certainly dressed for Valentine’s Day but, personally, I think it’s delicious at any old time…provided blood oranges are in season, of course.
Blood Orange Panna Cotta Tart
Oreo Cookie Crust
- 24 Oreo cookies
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter melted
Blood Orange Panna Cotta Filling
- 3 gelatin leaves
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 blood orange zested
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
Blood Orange Gelée
- 1 gelatin leaf
- 1/3 cup blood orange juice strained
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 blood oranges segmented
For the Oreo Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place the Oreo cookies in a large food processor and blitz until they turn to crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and stir in the salt. Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and stir until the mixture resembles wet sand.
- Pour the Oreo mixture into a 9-inch tart pan and, using a ¼ cup measure, press the mixture into the base and up the side of the tart pan.
- Place the tart shell in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Transfer the shell to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
For the Panna Cotta Filling
- While the tart shell is baking, make the panna cotta. Place the gelatin leaves in a bowl of cold water and set aside to soak.
- Pour the milk and cream into a small saucepan. Stir in the orange zest and sugar and place over low heat. Heat the mixture until steam starts to gather on the surface. Take the cream mixture off of the heat.
- Take the gelatine leaves out of the water and give them a squeeze to extract any excess moisture. Place the leaves in the cream mixture and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Pour the panna cotta mixture into a bowl and cover. Leave the mixture to cool on the counter until it reaches room temperature.
- Once the panna cotta has reached room temp, pour it into the cooled tart shell and transfer the tart to the fridge. Chill for 3 hours or overnight.
For the Gelée
- Place the gelatine leaf in a bowl of cold water and set aside to gel.
- Pour the blood orange juice and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Take the juice off of the heat.
- Take the gelatine leaf out of the water and give it a squeeze to remove any excess water. Place the gelatine leaf in the juice mixture and stir until dissolved. Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover, and place on the counter to cool.
Putting the Tart Together
- Arrange the blood orange segments in a star-formation in the center of the set panna cotta tart. Pour the room temperature gelée in the center of the star-formation until it covers the surface of the tart.
- Return the tart to the refrigerator and chill until the gelée is set, about 2 hours. When ready to eat, simply slice and serve the tart.