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If you’re looking for a unique dessert to serve during the holidays, this creamy pumpkin panna cotta recipe is sure to impress your guests. During the fall months, I become obsessed with creating amazing pumpkin desserts like my Keto Pumpkin Cheesecake and Vegan Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Glaze. Panna cotta is one of those desserts you expect to only find in nice restaurants but it can actually be made very easily at home. It always adds a sophisticated touch to any dinner party and can easily be customized in so many different ways. For our recipe, we topped our pumpkin panna cotta with the most perfect rich homemade caramel sauce.
What is Panna Cotta?
Most likely if you’re here, then you’ve tried panna cotta before. Sometimes, however, I will try a recipe on a complete whim even if I’ve never had it. If you’ve never had panna cotta before, it is like a cross between a pudding and a creme brulee with a creamy smooth texture. Panna cotta quite literally means cooked cream in Italian. It is prepared using heavy cream and gelatin. While I usually create healthy twists to my favorite desserts, panna cotta is typically served in smaller portions and so I decided to indulge a little.
How to Make Pumpkin Panna Cotta
To begin making your pumpkin panna cotta, you’re going to first dissolve the gelatin in warm water and set it aside. Then place the rest of the ingredients in a medium pot and whisk until combined. Bring the pot over medium heat and when it begins to boil, turn off the stove. Next, add the activated gelatine. Stir to combine and let the panna cotta mixture cool.
How to Serve Panna Cotta
When it comes to refrigerating your pumpkin panna cotta you have a few different options. The easiest is to pour your mixture into small serving size glasses or ramekins which your guests will eat directly from. Another option is to pour your mixture into silicone muffin pans, refrigerate, then pop out of the molds and serve on a plate. If you have small glasses, this is my favorite way to serve panna cotta, but if you have many guests, muffin molds may be the easiest option. The panna cotta will refrigerate for about 4 hours until it is completely set.
How to Make Homemade Caramel Sauce
While your pumpkin panna cotta is setting, you can begin making the homemade caramel sauce. To begin, add the sugar and water into a heavy bottom pot. Once the water has combined with the sugar, place it over medium heat to caramelize. It will take 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the pot. During this time, you shouldn’t touch or stir the caramel.
If the sides begin to crystalize, it is a good trick to use a wet brush to gently toss that sugar to combine with the rest of the caramel. The color that you’ll be looking for is an amber caramel, neither too light brown nor dark. Be careful that it doesn’t burn. With this recipe, you’ll need to be next to the pot, just staring at it as it could burn easily if you’re distracted. Once you achieve this nice amber color, remove it from heat.
Add the heavy cream and whisk to combine; some steam will be released due to the temperature shock, so using the cream at room temperature will minimize it. Then, add the butter and combine. Place the pot over the stove one more time, simmer until you see the caramel making some bubbles (1 to 2 minutes). Then remove from heat, add vanilla extract and combine. Let the caramel chill before using.
Pumpkin Panna Cotta Toppings
In addition to our decadent homemade caramel sauce, there are many additional toppings you can add to your panna cotta. To keep things simple we topped the panna cotta with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Below are some additional suggestions.
- Crumbles Biscoff Cookies or Graham Crackers
- sugar coated walnuts or pecans
- fresh chocolate shavings
- candy pearls
- edible flowers
- fresh fruit
Creamy Pumpkin Panna Cotta
- small dessert glasses
Pumpkin Panna Cotta
- 2 cups whipping cream
- ¾ cups milk
- ½ cup sugar granulated
- 3 tsp gelatin powder with 2 1/2 tbsp hot water
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp cinnamon ground
- ½ tsp pumpkin spice
- 1 cup sugar granulated
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup heavy cream room temperature
- 3 tbsp butter room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
Pumpkin Panna Cotta
- Dissolve the gelatine powder in hot water and set it aside.
- Place the rest of the ingredients in a medium pot and whisk until combined.
- Bring the pot over medium heat. When it begins to boil, turn off the stove and add the activated gelatine. Stir to combine. Let it cool.
- Fill each glass or silicone muffin mold with the Panna Cotta mixture and refrigerate for 4 hours or until completely set.
- Add sugar and water into a heavy bottom pot. Once the water has combined with the sugar, place it over medium heat to caramelize and Do Not Touch Or Stir. Expect this to take 10-15 minutes.
- Once you achieve a nice amber color, remove it from the heat. Add the heavy cream and whisk to combine.
- Then, add the butter, vanilla, and combine. Let sit at room tempurature.
- When serving your panna cotta, you can pour them in serving glasses to refrigerate or a silicone muffin to unmold onto plates.
- When making the caramel, if the sides begin to crystalize, it is a good trick to use a wet brush to gently toss that sugar to combine with the rest of the caramel.
- The color that you’ll be looking for is an amber caramel, neither too light brown nor dark. Be careful that it doesn’t burn. With this recipe, you’ll need to be next to the pot, just staring at it as it could burn easily if you’re distracted.
- remember to use your cream and butter at room tempurature
- The caramel sauce can be stored in a container and reheated on the stove top