“Making puree has only one real hurdle: Ideally, the pumpkin must be cut in half. I don’t expect to accomplish that in a single stroke. Using a large, heavy knife, I make one cut into the pumpkin. If I’m lucky, that cut will gain me enough leverage to pry the squash in two. (Sometimes I have to make a second cut to get a longer opening. I then use the knife to begin to split the pumpkin in half, and I finish the break using my hands.) If the split of the pumpkin isn’t perfect, you can trim the halves so they will sit flat in the pan. If the pumpkin has broken into several pieces, that’s okay. Next, use a big spoon to remove the seeds from the pumpkin halves. Line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place the halves or pieces, flat side down, in the pan; add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Transfer to a 350-degree oven and bake until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork. Depending on the size of the pumpkin, that can take anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes. Let the pumpkin cool, then flip the halves over and scrape the flesh away from the skin. Puree the flesh in a food processor until smooth.”
recipe adapted from The New York Times
1/2 cup milk
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (1 tbsp)
2 cups light 25% cream
1 cup pureed pumpkin, (you can use squash or sweet potato)
1/2 cup sugar (increase if required)
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon powder)
Put 1/2 cup of the milk in a 6- or 8-cup saucepan, and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, blend together the cream, pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice. The mixture should be perfectly smooth, so it is best to use a blender.
Turn the heat under the saucepan to low, and cook the milk, stirring occasionally, until the gelatin dissolves. Pour in the cream mixture, and turn the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until steam rises. Turn off the heat, and ladle or pour the mixture into 8 4-ounce ramekins or other containers.
Chill the panna cotta until firm, and serve, with creme fraiche or whipped cream if you like.
I topped the chilled panna cotta with a thinned chocolate ganache & caramel mixture, a dusting of pumpkin pie spice & vanilla sugar.
YIELD 8 servings
Pumpkin pairings Pumpkin is a good companion with many flavors including apples, bourbon and rum, caramel, cinnamon, cloves, raisins, coconut, honey, maple syrup, pecans and vanilla. Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce teams the winter gourd with several of those tastes.
Caramel sauce is sold in jars but making it from scratch requires just three ingredients and only a few more minutes to put together. Butter, dark brown sugar and cream mingle in a sauce pan until the sugar melts and a rich sauce develops. If you are thinking of cooking a fresh pumpkin for a dessert recipe, don’t. It takes quite a bit of time (chopping, seeding, boiling, scraping) and you’re likely to be unhappy with the results. The cooked pumpkin probably will be watery and less flavorful than its concentrated canned counterpart. Pumpkins, just like all nature’s bounty, are not created equal.