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Yogurt-Orange Blossom Panna Cotta Recipe

Yogurt-Orange Blossom Panna Cotta
Jessica Chou

Yogurt-Orange Blossom Panna Cotta

Try this unique and inspired panna cotta recipe from celebrated pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini of Top Chef: Just Desserts fame. It's a tangy twist on a much beloved Italian dessert, with a bright and refreshing citrus salad on the side, candied pistachios, and a little crunch on the bottom.


*Note: Candied citrus peels can be purchased at gourmet specialty stores as well as online.


For the citrus salad

  • 3/4 cups orange blossom honey
  • 1/3 cup grapefruit juice
  • 2 tablespoons sweet wine
  • 2 tablespoons elderflower cordial
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • Zest of 3 limes
  • Pinch of salt
  • Grapefruit, blood orange, Meyer lemon, and tangerine segments

For the sable Breton

  • 3/4 cups butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the pistachio dragée

  • 2/3 cups pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon glucose or corn syrup

For the panna cotta

  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 sheets gelatin
  • 2 1/4 cups vanilla yogurt, preferably Activia
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
  • Candied citrus peels, for garnish*
  • Balsamic vinegar, for garnish
  • Thyme leaves, for garnish


For the citrus salad

Heat the honey over medium heat in a small saucepan until it thickens and darkens in color and reduces to about ¼ cup. Deglaze with the grapefruit juice and sweet wine.

Add the rest of the ingredients except for the segments, and marinate overnight. Strain the next day and reheat to just above room temperature (do not simmer). Pour over the fresh segments. Chill before serving.

For the sable Breton

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, cream the butter using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until fluffy. Next, fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and place the yolks and sugar in another bowl. Whisk on low speed until pale and thick, add to the butter, and beat together.

Sift the rest of the ingredients and add just to mix, but be careful not to overmix. Roll out the dough until it is ¼-inch thick and chill in the refrigerator. Cut discs to the same diameter as a 4-ounce ramekin or mold.

Brush with the egg wash, transfer to the oven, and bake until golden brown, about 10-20 minutes (in a conventional oven, closer to 20 minutes; in a convection oven, closer to 10 minutes). Re-trim while still warm and let cool.

For the pistachio dragée

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Lightly toast the pistachios in the oven for 5 minutes but do not brown them. Toss in a bowl with the confectioners’ sugar and set aside. Heat the water, sugar, and glucose in a saucepan to 285 degrees as measured by a candy thermometer. Add the nuts and stir to coat. Pour onto a silpat and immediately remove to a bowl.

For the panna cotta

In a saucepan, heat the sugar and milk over medium heat until hot. Meanwhile, soak the gelatin in a small bowl of ice water for 10 minutes, then squeeze out the excess water and add to the hot milk. Remove from heat and allow the milk to cool to room temperature.

Stir in the vanilla yogurt, lime zest, and orange blossom water and pour into a ramekin or mold and allow to set in the refrigerator. Once set, carefully unmold into the serving bowl by inverting and releasing 1 edge.

Place the panna cotta on top of the sable Breton and arrange the citrus salad alongside. Sprinkle the pistachio dragée on top and garnish with citrus peels, balsamic vinegar, and thyme leaves.