Earlier this year I made a summer panna cotta with fresh berries. As the first hint of cooler temperatures rolled in, I decided to have a couple of friends over for brunch on the back porch. I served shakshuka with poached eggs and a fattoush salad. I was looking for a light fall dessert to accompany these dishes and one that I could make ahead.
Panna cotta is an Italian dessert made with sweetened cream and gelatin. It can be flavored with fruit purees or other aromatics. In this case, I flavored the cream and gelatin mixture with pureed pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.
This pumpkin panna cotta with caramelized pears fulfilled all of my criteria for fall not only because of the spiced pumpkin and the pears but also because I was able to make the panna cotta in individual glasses the day before. I did not need to worry about preparing dessert on the morning of the brunch. Instead, I was able to spend time cutting flowers, setting the table, finishing the salad, spicing the shakshuka, and poaching eggs.
I made the panna cotta in a stemless wine glass. You can also use custard cups or ramekins.
I like the wine glasses because the presentation of the custard and the pears in a clear glass container is quite beautiful and showy.
These pumpkin panna cottas would make a perfect Thanksgiving Day dessert too. Especially because they are easy to do ahead and light enough to serve after a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast.
If you wish to make these recipes for your own fall brunch on your back porch, check my recipe for shakshuka and the fattoush salad. I have a recipe for a non-traditional green shakshuka as well as a red shakshuka that I garnish with shrimp and poached eggs. Happy brunching!