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.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 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
- 1 Large or 2 Small to Medium Pears
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon Butter
- 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon Sugar
- Sweetened Whipped Cream
- Place the milk in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it, stir gently and leave for 5 minutes to soften.
- 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.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Whisk in the gelatin mixture until smooth.
- Divide the mixture into 4 glasses or ramekins and refrigerate.
- Cut the pear/pears in half, remove the core and peel, then cut into small dice.
- In a heavy frying pan heat the butter until sizzling.
- Add the pears, sugar and cinnamon and stir.
- Cook over medium heat stirring often until the pears and very tender and obtain a nice golden brown color.
- Remove from the heat and place in a covered bowl until needed.
- To serve, allow the panna cotta to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
- Add a dollop of sweetened cream to each panna cotta, then spoon on some of the pears in their juice.
- Serve immediately.