When we have people over for a dinner party, I love creating a show-stopping dessert. If I’m cooking the entire meal, however, I don’t always have the time it takes to create something that will make people go “wow”. This pumpkin spice panna cotta is the indulgent but simple answer to this challenge—it’s quick to make and this silky, creamy, but light dessert has just enough pumpkin spice flavor to please anyone!
This is definitely a decadent dessert with cream and sugar, but it’s so incredibly delicious and simple! Panna cotta has to be one of my favorite desserts, and I always get compliments and then silent eating (which is the real compliment). And because it’s pumpkin and squash season, I thought, what could be better than putting two of my favorite things together? And pumpkin spice panna cotta was born!
Panna cotta can be served two ways—in a ramekin or mold, or in some type of glass. I personally love using small bowls, tea/coffee cups, or decorative somethings for my panna cotta, as you can see. It just adds something special.
However, panna cotta can look really pretty too if you unmold it onto a plate and add garnish like a cranberry coulis or cookie arranged artfully. All you need to do is grease the ramekin, then once it’s set, run a paring knife around the edges and turn over—it should unmold easily, although I’ve had a few panna cotta that slipped out half-heartedly (read: broke in half).
Pumpkin Spice Panna Cotta Recipe
Panna cotta is a dessert with Italian origin. The words panna cotta is translated to “cooked cream”, which is exactly what it is (plus a few more ingredients…). It only has a few ingredients and, besides setting time, it comes together in a snap. There are no eggs, there’s no flour, and you can make it the night before so that’s one less thing to do before dinner!
Once you have all ingredients together (see the recipe card below), combine the milk and cream in a pot. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top, then wait a few minutes until the gelatin has formed a kind of skin over the top—it will look somewhat solid and a bit wrinkly. This is called “blooming”.
Once the gelatin has bloomed, place the pot over low to medium-low heat, depending on your stove. The point is to just heat the milk enough that the gelatin, and later the sugar, dissolve completely. This is the most important part of the entire recipe. If the gelatin doesn’t dissolve, the panna cotta won’t set, and if the sugar doesn’t dissolve, it will be grainy.
Don’t allow the cream-milk mixture to simmer—you don’t want bubbles around the edges—and if you see steam starting to come off of the top, either turn the heat down or take the pot off the stove for a while.
Continuously stir the mixture with a whisk. Check the progress after about five minutes. Either rub the mixture between your fingers for grittiness, or dip a spoon in the mixture and check the back for grains of gelatin. If everything has dissolved, it should be smooth, like this:
Once all the gelatin has dissolved, repeat the process with the sugar and salt. You can check for dissolution the same way.
After the sugar has dissolved, add the pumpkin purée and keep over the heat for a minute or two more. Then, take the pot off the heat and add the syrup, vanilla, and spices. Stir until everything is combined.
Then, pour into the cups, glasses, or ramekins.
Place in the fridge to set. This will take anywhere from two hours up. You can definitely leave them in there overnight, too. I used pumpkin butter, candied pumpkin seeds, and sugared walnuts for my garnish, but you use whatever you’d like. You’re also under no obligation to garnish—the pumpkin spice panna cotta is pretty perfect the way it is!
- 1 ½ cups cream
- 1 cup 2% milk
- ¼ cup of sugar
- ½ cup of pumpkin puree, canned or fresh
- 1 packet of unflavored gelatin
- 2 tablespoon of maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon of ginger
- ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Combine the milk and cream in a sauce pot and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Allow the gelatin to bloom, about 5 minutes.
- Once the gelatin has bloomed, place the pot over medium-low to low heat, stirring constantly. Don’t let the mixture get too hot—you should be able to touch it with your finger easily.
- Once the gelatin has dissolved completely, add the sugar and salt, stirring constantly until they have dissolved.
- Stir in the pumpkin purée and heat through, then take off the heat and add spices, vanilla, and syrup. Stir to combine.
- Pour the mixture into six ramekins, glasses, or tea cups.
- Place in the refrigerator and allow to set at least six hours or overnight.
- Garnish with garnish of choice!
This recipe is a perfect use for homemade pumpkin purée, which is this week’s Friday Bits blog! So make sure to check back.
‘Till next time!