Would you like something that tastes like autumn and that only needs 10 of your minutes? This pumpkin spice panna cotta with poached pear and nuts is the answer! Not very sweet, yet very delightful, it brings together all the favourite ingredients of autumn!
Please note that this recipe does not contain pumpkin!
My guilty pleasure
One of my guilty pleasures is going shopping. And while I am very quick and lack patience when I go clothes shopping, when I go food shopping I am an entirely different person. Just yesterday I spent 20 minutes in my local grocery shop looking around and smelling fruits and veg. I like to touch them, smell them, feel them. I can still remember my perfectionist grandpa teaching me how to pick the best produce from farmers’ market. ‘Knock in the watermelon, does he say hello back?’ he used to say. You need to learn to speak the language of fruit and veg.
All senses involved
Since I’ve lived in the UK (that’s a total of 5 years, with a two year break) I’ve never felt that fruit and veg speak back to me. I’ve learnt to pick the best melon, plums, tomatoes, pears by smelling them. And aside from the sweet smell, their softness should almost caress your fingertips when you touch them. The process is a bit more complicated in the UK: I buy the typical unripe fruits and veg and just adopt them for a week or two in my home, until they ripen. That’s when they’re ready to be devoured! Is it me, or do my last two sentences sound like an awful criminal mastermind’s plan?
It’s funny: I would honestly pay more for products that are so ripe and delicious that you need to handle them with care and consume immediately. However, here in the UK, it is quite the opposite. When fruits and vegetables become perfect, the sellers decide to sell them with a huge discount. This is how I got my hands on the juiciest and tastiest pears in Edinburgh. 10p per pear. 10p per pear! May I repeat? 10p per pear!
Poached pears and panna cotta
As you can imagine, I immediately put a couple of those beautiful pears into my basket and carried them home like a mother who carries her baby. They got home without a scratch and while I was devouring one I came up with the idea to poach them. My pears were so ripe that they would have gone brown within an hour. They were so ripe that even a fly could have broken the skin. Whenever I feel like making a dessert, I think of panna cotta. It’s delicious, it’s fairly light compared to cakes and other sweets, and it’s oh so easy and quick! I love panna cotta! It’s the paradise of desserts: always delicious and ready in 5.
Pumpkin spice, everything nice
I then remembered my work colleague Clare being excited about autumn being the pumpkin spice season. Even more than that, pears are often poached in most of the ingredients of pumpkin spice. Later I thought about how well pecans go with pears. Finally when it came to photographing the ready dessert, I also decided to add almonds and hazelnuts, because they’re pretty and tasty at the same time.
Here’s the recipe
- 250ml milk
- 250ml single cream
- 2 tbsp muscovado sugar
- 2 tsp pumpkin spice
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 4 gelatine leaves
- 2 very ripe pears
- 1 tsp allspice berries, whole
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3-4 cardamom pods
- 1 tbsp cloves, whole
- 2 tbsp dark rum (I used Stroh)
- 2 tbsp muscovado sugar
- For topping
- 6-7 pecans, some whole, some crushed
- 2 tbsp almond flakes (optional)
- 2 tbsp hazelnut, crushed (optional)
- First of all prepare the panna cotta. In a pot heat the milk, cream and mix in the spices. Don't bring to boil, it just needs to be warm enough for the sugar to melt.
- In the meantime soak the gelatine leaves in water. Remove the milk mix from the heat and let cool for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the gelatine leaves and make sure they have melted.
- Add the panna cotta mix to moulds or glasses. Let the panna cotta cool down, and then place it in the fridge for about an hour, until it's set.
- In the meantime prepare the poached pears. Fill a pot with water and add all the ingredients.
- Melt the sugar in, then add the pears.
- Let them boil for about 20 minutes, then stop the heat and let the pears reast in the poaching water.
- When the panna cotta is set, halve and slice the pears.
- Add one half of a pear to each panna cotta and top with nuts.