I was curious about panna cotta for I don’t know how long. It’s always made in pretty, fruity colors and flavors and dressed up in little dishes. I’m a sucker for a cute dessert, but I’d never tasted it, nor could I recall ever seeing it on a restaurant menu. What did that mean? Was it yucky? What was it, anyway?
Of course that meant I probably needed to just figure it out and satisfy my curiosity. I was looking through a Mark Bittman cookbook we have, The Minimalist Entertains, and Pumpkin Panna Cotta was part of his menu for “An Informal Buffet”.
Bittman wrote that this was “the simplest to make of all legitimate custard desserts”. Let’s stop here briefly. Legitimate? I felt a little challenged already. We’re using gelatin in this recipe–an ingredient that nobody I know likes, except for me, so . . . legitimate? The recipe said it should take me 20 minutes. Keep in mind that I am not a good cook. I just keep trying. Let’s just say that something about the pureeing process, missing an ingredient and–oh, let’s just skip it–but 2.5 hours and two full recipes later, I was done.
In the end, I feel like I leveled up.
Even though the pumpkin flavor in this panna cotta is excellent, the texture is very rich, and this is a cool dessert, if you don’t like JELL-O, don’t make this recipe for the holidays. Yes, it is pumpkin-y. Yes, it is pretty, but it is really only for people who are comfortable with a gelatin texture. I honestly thought I’d be on my own with these but my son, Zach, ate two before I got any pictures taken. Also, no, I don’t have any process pictures. Just no.
I will say that the final product is pretty and I am certain the next time I do this it will only take me 20 minutes. Do you make panna cotta? What kind? I want to know if you love it or hate it and what kind you make.
- 1½ cups milk
- 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 1½ cups pureed pumpkin, squash, or sweet potato
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Put ½ cup of the milk in a 6- to 8-cup saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, blend together the remaining milk, cream, pumpkin, sugar, and cinnamon. The mixture should be perfectly smooth, so it's best to use a blender.
- Turn the heat under the saucepan to low and cook the milk, stirring occasionally, until the gelatin dissolves.
- Pour in the cream mixture and turn the heat to medium.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until steam rises.
- Turn off the heat and ladle or pour into eight 4-ounce ramekins or other containers.
- Chill until firm (you may unmold them) and serve with creme fraiche or whipped cream, if you like.