Pumpkin Panna Cotta With Caramelized Pears


In my ongoing obsession with fresh pumpkin, I decided to play around with my favorite panna cotta recipe and create a more seasonal one that would be perfect for Thanksgiving or any fall entertaining. Panna cotta is one of my “go to” desserts when I am entertaining because you can prepare it completely ahead of time, it is very light after a multi course meal, and you can change the basic recipe in so many ways that you never get bored with it. I just didn’t want a simple pumpkin flavored panna cotta as I feared it might resemble pumpkin pie filling in a cup, so I decided to add another seasonal fall favorite, the pear.

For my topping, I simply peeled and diced the pears and sauteed them in a little butter, cinnamon and sugar until they were tender and beginning to caramelize. To serve, I simple added a dollop of sweetened whipped cream to each panna cotta and then spooned some of the pears in their juice on top. I used maple syrup to sweeten my version but you could simply replace this with a tablespoon or two of sugar white or brown) if you prefer. I do like cinnamon (a LOT) so used a whole teaspoon in my recipe, but you can decrease this to 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon if you aren’t quite as fond of it as I am. I also used roasted pureed fresh pumpkin in my recipe because I cannot find canned pumpkin here in Italy, but I do recommend canned pumpkin for convenience sake. I also used individual glasses for my panna cotta as I think they present well, and you will get 4 (5 ounce) servings from this recipe. You could also use 4 ounce ramekins instead.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2011

Pumpkin Panna Cotta With Caramelized Pears

A nice, light dessert that is perfect for fall entertaining.

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Panna Cotta

  • 1 1/2 Cups Half & Half
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup (Or Sugar)
  • 3/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree (Canned Or Homemade)
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1 Package (1/4 Ounce) Gelatin
  • 1/3 Cup Milk

Caramelized Pear:

  • 1 Large or 2 Small to Medium Pears
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Sugar

To Serve:

  • Sweetened Whipped Cream

Directions:

  1. Place the milk in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it, stir gently and leave for 5 minutes to soften.
  2. Combine the half and half in a small saucepan with the syrup and pumpkin, and heat until the mixture just reaches the scalding point but does not boil, whisking often.
  3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Whisk in the gelatin mixture until smooth.
  5. Divide the mixture into 4 glasses or ramekins and refrigerate.
  6. Cut the pear/pears in half, remove the core and peel, then cut into small dice.
  7. In a heavy frying pan heat the butter until sizzling.
  8. Add the pears, sugar and cinnamon and stir.
  9. Cook over medium heat stirring often until the pears and very tender and obtain a nice golden brown color.
  10. Remove from the heat and place in a covered bowl until needed.
  11. To serve, allow the panna cotta to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
  12. Add a dollop of sweetened cream to each panna cotta, then spoon on some of the pears in their juice.
  13. Serve immediately.