The one thing that I always make sure of at Christmas is to have lots of cream. It’s the perfect time to treat myself and indulge in some delicious Avonmore Irish cream. I have it with mince pies, add it to soups, use it in sauces….cream and Christmas go hand in hand. Panna cotta is one of my favourite desserts so I decided to practice a nice festive version that I can make for Christmas day. This is a slightly different version to my usual panna cotta and I took some inspiration from both Jamie Oliver and The Hairy Bikers. It is a very lightly spiced panna cotta with all the flavours of the festive season, cinnamon, all spice and ginger. I complimented this with a cranberry, brandy and orange compote. This dish looks great served in little espresso cups and is a lighter alternative to Christmas pudding but just as decadent for the holiday season.

Here’s how:

Panna cotta

- 70ml milk
- 2 drops of vanilla essence
- grated zest of half a lemon
- Pinch of ginger
- Pinch of allspice
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 375ml double cream
- 1½ leaves of gelatine, soaked in water
- 70g icing sugar

Place the milk, vanilla extract, lemon zest, spices and half the cream into a medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan. Simmer over a low to medium heat for 10 minutes. Meanwhile soak the gelatine in a small cup of cold water. Take the milk off the heat and stir in the soaked gelatine leaves until dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool, and then place in the fridge for ten minutes.

Meanwhile lightly whip together the icing sugar with the rest of the cream. Mix the cooled cream from the fridge with the lightly whipped cream until well combined.

Divide the mixture into 6 serving moulds. I used small espresso cups here, but you can also use small ramekins, old glass yoghurt jars, or small glasses. I didn’t grease the cups as I was serving them in the cups, however if you wanted to remove the panna cotta from the dish, you should grease the dish with melted butter before pouring the mixture in.

Cover and chill for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

Cranberry and Orange compote

- 80g of dried cranberries
- 1 and half oranges juiced
- Zest of one orange
- ½ tblsp of Brandy

Soak the cranberries, orange juice, zest and brandy for a few hours or preferably overnight. Once ready, blitz in the food processor until it becomes a puree. Serve the panna cotta straight from the fridge with a small spoonful of the compote on top.  I garnished with a thin twirl of orange peel.

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