Mexican Orange Cookies

I recently came across an old article posted on the New York Times website which talks about the Psychology of Gift Giving. With Christmas only a few days away I thought it would be appropriate to share it with you today.

The main point of the article basically helped reiterate something we’ve known all along… It’s the act or thought of giving and not the gift itself that matters. It lets our friends and loved ones know they are important to us and that we care about them regardless of what the gift itself might be; which in turn makes us feel good.

A win-win situation if you ask me!



Burnt Orange Panna Cotta

Some thoughts on burning…

Here are a few scenarios in which burning is not quite a good thing:

  • Getting called out for something you know you did wrong and didn’t want to admit. BURN!!!
  • Thinking you are getting a good deal, then come to realize you got burned.
  • Not wearing any sunscreen and end up with a terrible sunburn.

These on the other hand, I don’t mind in the least:

  • Burning a few calories during a workout or other activities.
  • Burning through a few gallons of gasoline on a nice drive.
  • Burning some wood in the fireplace.
  • The sun burning off the fog.
  • And last but not least… Burning a little orange zest to make this very yummy dessert, a very good thing!

Burnt Orange Panna Cotta

from The gourmet Cookbook

1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (from one 1/4-ounce envelope)
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3/4 cup sour cream
2 navel oranges

Lightly oil six 4-ounce molds or ramekins.

Sprinkle gelatin over milk in a small bowl and let stand for about 1 minute to soften.

Whisk together confectioners’ sugar, salt, and 1 cup heavy cream in another small bowl.

Heat granulated sugar in a dry small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, without stirring, until zest is fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir cream mixture and carefully add to caramel (it will bubble and harden). Cook over moderately low heat, strirring, until caramel is dissolved. Add gelatin mixture and remaining 1 teaspoon zest and stir until gelatin is dissolved.

Stir in orange juice, remove from heat, and let stand just until cooled to room temperature.

Pour caramel mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl.

Beat remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream in a small bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds soft peaks.

Whisk sour cream in another small bowl until smooth. Fold whipped cream into sour cream, then fold into caramel mixture until well combined.

Spoon into molds and refrigerate, covered, until firm, at least 8 hours.

When ready to serve, dip molds into a bowl of hot water for about 30 seconds.

Then run a very thin flexible knife around the edge mold, while tilting mold so panna cotta pulls away from side.

Invert mold onto center of a dessert plate, holding mold and plate at a 45-degree angle so panna cotta slips out. let panna cotta stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Top your Panna Cotta with a drizzle of dark chocolate syrup, a couple of sections of orange and if you really want to go all out… how about sprinkling the tops with a few chocolate covered cacao nibs. Mmmm, mmmmm, mmmm!