You know how it goes — you carefully plan your Thanksgiving meal, and yet, somehow, there's always that one item that just won't fit in the oven.
This year, make a totally-real-food pumpkin pie dessert that doesn't require any baking! It takes about five minutes to pull together, can be made a day or two beforehand, and only needs refrigerator space to firm up. (Granted, that can be at a premium too!)
These also travel well, so if you're in charge of bringing dessert or you're traveling a long distance, these work really well. In fact, I'm planning to do exactly that. This year, our extended family is gathering in a rustic cabin in the mountains, so having these already made will make Thanksgiving dessert a breeze.
Now, a note about panna cotta and what makes it so special. 🙂
Panna cotta, or cooked cream, is a very softly set pudding that originated in northern Italy. And what makes panna cotta, well, panna cotta, is gelatin. Typically puddings and custards are thickened with eggs, which I adore for the nourishment found in the egg yolks and the absolutely silky mouth-feel, but in the case of panna cotta, the gelatin provides the merest of wiggles and allows for great versatility. Interestingly enough, the earliest recipes for panna cotta describe simmering the cream with fish bones, as the collagen set the cream.
While we no longer make panna cotta with fish bones, gelatin does indeed hold a special place in my heart because it provides nourishment that isn’t found in many other places and it creates a soft, luscious texture all its own. And as Wardee has written on multiple occasions and highlighted on the Know Your Food with Wardee podcast, gelatin truly is a powerhouse ingredient that we would do well to include in our diet as often as possible.
(Side note: Due to the thick pumpkin, this recipe uses a slightly higher amount of gelatin than a traditional panna cotta, so don't be dismayed when your final dessert is more firmly set than “a mere wiggle”.)
So, there you go. Now you have an excuse to eat a second helping of dessert on Thanksgiving Day — just to make sure you get an adequate amount of gelatin, of course. 😉
May your Thanksgiving be filled with a deep sense of thanks and gratitude for the blessings that abound in our lives, in the tough times as much as in the easy ones.
Pumpkin Pie Panna Cotta
- 1 cup heavy cream preferably raw, or yogurt
- 1/2 cup raw whole milk
- 1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree *
- 1/2 cup maple syrup or light-flavored raw honey
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice **
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract ***
- 1/2 cup pure water cold
- 1 tablespoon sustainably-sourced gelatin (certified glyphosate-free)
Place cold water in a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over.
Let sit while you gather the other ingredients.
Place the yogurt, pumpkin, maple syrup, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice in a blender and process just until smooth.
Heat the gelatin-water mixture over low heat just until the gelatin is completely dissolved -- about 2 to 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, gather your containers, either one whole serving bowl or individual pots.
When the gelatin has dissolved, turn the blender on and with the motor running, drizzle the gelatin mixture into the pumpkin mixture.
If it's too thick to move, add a bit of whole milk, a tablespoon at a time, until it's thin enough to move freely.
Pour immediately into your containers and move to the refrigerator to chill.
Let sit for at least two hours.
These can also be made up to two days in advance.
Serving Ideas for Pumpkin Pie Panna Cotta
Panna cotta will firm up in any container you pour it in, so the sky is the limit on creativity!
If you want to serve it as a scoopable pudding, use any decorative bowl or casserole dish that suits your fancy. This recipe makes 1 quart of panna cotta, which serves 4 to 6 people, so plan accordingly.
If you want to prepare individual servings, here are a few of my favorite ways to serve panna cotta:
- in bone china or other decorative tea cups
- in demitasse cups (perfect for small servings, which after a large dinner, might be very welcome!)
- in a small Weck jar, Fido jar, or other lidded jar
- in a small mason jar
- in small juice glasses
- in champagne flutes or wine glasses
- in coffee mugs
- in dessert bowls
My only word of caution is that if you're not going to serve the pumpkin pie panna cotta within a few hours, don't use containers that are made of wood, metal, or plastic. Stainless steel and BPA-free, food-grade plastic should be okay if you'll be serving within 12 hours or so.
Enjoy! What are your favorite pumpkin dishes? Is your Thanksgiving menu planned yet?
Be sure to leave room in your Thanksgiving menu because Traditional Cooking School writers will be sharing ideas with you all month long. 🙂
This post was featured in 57 Scrumptious Egg-Free Desserts.
We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. This post may contain special links through which we earn a small commission if you make a purchase (though your price is the same).