Whether it’s flan, custard, a budino, or panna cotta, one thing I know is true…… the first spoonful is always the dreamiest.
Now that fall is here, you probably know that squash is on my mind – all the time. I prefer it over pumpkin for sweet applications, with a denser texture, and deeper flavor when roasted.
For the last few days, this Maple Butternut Squash Panna Cotta has been my indulgence as I detach myself from a big project that is coming to an end. Playing around with countless ways to serve and decorate these little pots of cream, letting my mind work in a different direction, was just what I needed.
Panna cotta is the perfect after-dinner delight in my mind – light, silky and decadent all at the same time. But I’ll be the first to admit that the whole “setting with gelatin” thing has always made me a little nervous. Yet in all honesty, it’s easier than any cake or pie I’ve ever made. You can do it, trust!
Most base recipes use cream, sugar (which I traded for maple syrup) and gelatin, creating a blank canvas for whatever addition or flavor you fancy. It’s silky smooth and just firm, with a gentle wobble. Grassfed heavy cream and buttermilk are simmered with pure maple syrup and roasted butternut squash (kabocha would be great too).
A dash of pumpkin pie spice brings warmth, and gluten-free ginger cookies crumbled on top give the perfect contrast to the lush custard.
It’s beautiful food that sings with the season. Almost too pretty to eat, but not quite.
Left in their tiny cups, they’ll snuggle into one hand quite nicely as you sit and savor. I like to layer some of the mashed squash and cookie crumbs alongside each other on top, giving them brightness, texture and curiosity. If you think the squash “evidence” might give a red flag to the vegetable adverse, it’s certainly not required.
Or you can unmold the panna cotta on individual plates and shower each with cookie dust and a drizzle of maple syrup. Their simple elegance is an eye catcher too….
They can chill in the fridge all day (and overnight, and the next night too), taste amazing, and lend themselves to endless variations. Is that reason enough to try them? Please say yes….. :) xo