We are only a couple of days away from bidding adieu to 2021 and from where I’m sitting, that is a very good thing. Sure, I had some good times this year but being the eternal optimist that I am, I’m inclined to believe the best is yet to come. And although I was decidedly wrong about 2020 and 2021. I live in hope that I will be right eventually. Even a broken watch, right? So in the spirit of carefully hoping for better things, I present you with this exuberant French 75 Panna Cotta for two complete with a candied kumquat halo. This is my final dish of 2021 and the closing sweet note of my brief but, I like to think, very romantic New Year’s at-home date menu.
Now, before we go any further, I feel I should warn you that these beauties are very boozy. Yes, they may look like innocent pudding cups but they pack a punch. Think of them as classy jello shots. Personally, I don’t find their alcoholic bite to be a drawback. But I just want you to be sure you like the taste of gin before embarking on these festive treats.
I’m going to assume you’re down with the gin if you made it this far, so let’s break down this French 75 Panna Cotta, shall we? I think the best way to approach this is by first explaining what a French 75 is. A French 75 is a champagne cocktail consisting of gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup finished with a sparkling wine float. Some people insist that the French 75 can only be made with authentic champagne. And I suppose I see their point. How could you fairly call the drink “French” otherwise? But I’m not much of a cocktail stickler myself, so any sparkling wine will do in my books. I actually used a Cava in these panna cotta. I had it and it had bubbles. It fit the brief.
The French 75 Panna Cotta features a layer of lemon gin panna cotta and a layer of champagne jelly. If you look closely, you’ll see that the cocktail’s tell-tale lemon twist garnish is suspended in the jelly layer. The panna cotta also features candied kumquats and a sprinkling of edible gold sparkles. These are optional of course and candying the kumquats does take some time. But you can use candied kumquats just about anywhere and they keep for a long time, so maybe it’s worth it. You can see them in action in this recipe as well.
This recipe is for two, so some of the measurements may seem rather small. But simple math will allow you to infinitely scale up this recipe. I mean, as long as you only host people two-by-two. And even if you don’t, it’s not a tragedy to have an extra panna cotta in the fridge. Particularly one that goes down like a stiff drink.
Now, each component of this dessert is very easy to make. We’re talking pouring, stiffing, and light simmering here. But you do have to give the panna cotta and jelly layers ample time to set. Particularly before introducing one to the other. The two layers will bleed into each other somewhat. It’s a natural byproduct of pouring any hot liquid over a set jelly. But you can limit the bleed by allowing the champagne jelly to set fully before pouring the panna cotta, fresh from the stove, on top.
Once the panna cotta layer is set, you’re set. Simply remove the deserts from their molds by dipping them into hot water for 5 minutes before inverting them onto a plate. They may take a little time to slide out onto the said plate, so be patient with your panna cotta. You can also run an offset spatula around the sides of the panna cotta, but do this sparingly, it will mar the sides of the finished desserts. Once the panna cotta is out of its molds, simply garnish and serve immediately. I find if you unmold the panna cotta too early, it will start to lose its shape.
So that’s pretty much everything you need to know about these French 75 Panna Cotta with Candied Kumquats. This is a fairly fuss-free and elegant treat that will not only help you ring in the new year but celebrate any and all the occasions 2022 has in store for you. Here’s to what I hope will be a happy and prosperous new year for everyone!
Enjoy and Happy New Year!
French 75 Panna Cotta with Candied Kumquats
- 2 1/2 cup ramekins
- 1 small saucepan
Candied Kumquats **
- 1 cup kumquats thinly sliced
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 lemon twists
- ¼ cup champagne or other sparkling white wine
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1½ tsp unflavored gelatin powder
- ¼ cup gingerale
Lemon Gin Panna Cotta
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 lemon zested
- 1 oz gin
- edible gold glitter for sprinkling
For the Candied Kumquats
- Pour the water and sugar into a large skillet and bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer.1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup water
- Once the sugar has dissolved, add the kumquats and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the kumquats with a slotted spoon and place them on a cooling rack suspended over a baking sheet to cool and drain. Set aside to cool and dry-out for at least 3 hours.1 cup kumquats
For the Champagne Jelly
- Lightly grease your ramekins or jelly molds with a neutral oil. Place a lemon twist inside each vessel and set them aside.2 lemon twists
- Pour the champagne, sugar, and lemon juice into a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over top and set the mixture aside to gel. This should take about 3 minutes. Don't stir the mixture.¼ cup champagne, 1 tsp granulated sugar, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1½ tsp unflavored gelatin powder
- Once the gelatin has bloomed, place the saucepan over medium-low heat and simmer until the gelatin dissolves completely. Do not let the mixture come up to a boil.
- Take the pan off of the heat and stir in the ginger ale. Pour the mixture over the lemon twists. Fill each vessel about a third of the way. Transfer the jelly to the fridge and leave it to chill for 2-3 hours.¼ cup gingerale
For the Panna Cotta
- When the Champagne Jelly has set, start your panna cotta. Pour the milk into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface. Set the mixture aside to gel for 3 minutes.¼ cup whole milk, 1 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
- While the gelatin is blooming, pour the cream, sugar, and lemon zest into a small saucepan. Place the mixture over medium-low heat and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Take the pan off of the heat and cover. Let sit to steep for 10 minutes.¼ cup + 2 tbsp heavy cream, 2 tbsp granulated sugar, 1 lemon
- Bring the mixture back up to a simmer and add the milk and gelatin mixture. Stir until the gelatin dissolves completely. Don't let the mixture come to a boil.
- Take the saucepan off of the heat and stir in the gin. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer over the set champagne jelly. Return the jelly to the fridge and leave the panna cotta to chill for 3 hours.1 oz gin
- To unmold, dip each vessel in hot water for 5 minutes before inverting it onto a plate. The jelly and panna cotta should slide out but it might take a little encouragement. Try running an offset spatula around the edges of the panna cotta but be careful not to mar the sides.
- Sprinkle each panna cotta with edible gold glitter and garnish with candied kumquats.edible gold glitter