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Panna Cotta with Grand Marnier Caramel Sauce & Bruleed Figs


This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart. The bruleed figs was inspired from "Herbivoracious". You can make one, two or all of these components. All three components makes a beautiful presentation, and it's not as hard as you might think!

Although the name panna cotta — Italian for “cooked cream” — is simplicity itself, the taste and texture of these eggless custards are complex. Silky and rich but delicate, they are subtle enough to defer to any sweet accompaniment — in this case, caramel and bruleed figs. Heavy cream is simmered with sugar and gelatin, and transferred to an ice bath; the mixture is whisked until cool, flavored with a dash of vanilla, and poured into ramekins. Once set, each panna cotta is turned onto a plate, garnished with figs, and drizzled with Grand Marnier-laced caramel.

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Panna Cotta with Grand Marnier Caramel Sauce & Bruleed Figs 1 Picture


  • 2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier*, optional (You could also choose bourbon or Amaretto, if desired)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup water OR
  • 1/4 cup water and
  • 3 Tablespoons water (or Grand marnier or bourbon)
  • 6 ripe figs, cut in half
  • Fine sugar or
  • 15 ripe figs, cut in half lengthwise, stems removed
  • Ramekins
  • Large bowl with ice cubes
  • Small kitchenBlow torch/brulee torch (if making bruleed figs)
  • Heavy bottomed pan (if making the caramel sauce)


Preparation time 30mins
Cooking time 45mins
Adapted from


Step 1

Fill a large bowl with ice and water, and set aside.

Place 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water, and let soften for 10 minutes.

Place heavy cream and 1/2 cup sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Add gelatin mixture, and stir until gelatin and sugar are completely dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to 1-quart measuring cup.

Place measuring cup in the ice bath, and whisk cream mixture until cool, 6 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla extract; add Grand Marnier, if desired. Pour mixture into six 6-ounce ramekins or glasses. Chill until set, about 1 hour and 50 minutes.

For the caramel sauce (note: this sauce doesn't have heavy cream of butter, because this is more of a thin flan style caramel sauce:

Note: Be sure to have all of your ingredients ready before First, before you begin, make sure you have everything ready to go - the water and the alcohol (if using) next to the pan, ready to put in. Making caramel is a fast process that cannot wait for hunting around for ingredients. If you don't work fast, the sugar will burn. Safety first - make sure there are no children under foot and you may want to wear oven mitts; the caramelized sugar will be much hotter than boiling water.

In a heavy skillet, and place over medium-high heat, spread the sugar evenly.

As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. You can swirl the pan a bit if you want, from this point on. Note that this recipe works best if you are using a thick-bottomed pan.

The sugar should turn to a dark amber--about 2 to 3 minutes.

Very carefully, stir in 1/2 cup warm water (I used 1/4 cup water and 3 Tbsp. of Grand Marnier) and bourbon. It will bubble, but don't panic! Stir until combined, and remove from heat to cool to room temperature.

Bruleed figs:
Cut the figs in half lengthwise. Lay them skin-side down on a flameproof surface, such as a cookie sheet.

Find a safe place to use your torch. Put a good mound of sugar on the cut surface of each fig, completely covering it. Use more than you think you would need because the blowtorch will blow some of it off.

Turn on your torch and, working quickly, move back and forth over each fig turning the sugar into a melting dark brown syrup which will rapidly turn to "glass" when you remove the torch.

You will want to experiment a bit to find the optimal distance to hold the flame. Remember that hot caramel will give you a nasty burn, so transfer them carefully to serving plates, and drizzle on some excellent balsamic vinegar.

To unmold panna cotta, dip ramekins in warm water. Run a paring knife around edges of panna cotta to break seal, and invert each ramekin onto a dessert plate. Dessert will slowly slide out.

Garnish with figs and caramel. Serve.

You can keep panna cotta, covered in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to three days. It should be eaten quite cold; remove it from the refrigerator just before serving. At times of the year when figs are out of season, drizzle the custard with chocolate sauce, or top it with fresh berries.

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