Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Orange Caramel Sauce



I love Thanksgiving. We join hands with those we love and unloose from memory the spirit of those who once occupied chairs now empty at our table. We give thanks, we celebrate, we eat and, when you've lived as long as I have, you remember. We lived in a basement flat the first year we were married. Papa and Mama S. lived above us and while Papa embraced us quickly it took Mama a bit longer. Once that embrace occurred she was determined to pass on what she thought every girl should know - life, men and the world were all fair game. Mama's world was full of ghosts, border guards and fears held, just barely, at bay. I made the mistake, that first Thanksgiving, of sharing with her my desire to leave school. Oh, my! I have an ear for languages and dialect but I won't use either to color portraits of the people I've loved. It can, too, easily be seen as sport, so I'll share only the anglicized version of the advice I received from Mama S. In her world babies did not have babies, women wore all their jewelry all the time (as bankable as cash) and those fortunate enough to receive an education did not leave school because they were tired. The keystone of her argument..."assure your future lest you have to move your tent to another village." God bless her; that wise old survivor, whose tent had moved to many villages, predated the women's movement by a decade. All of this was said over the components of a custard the night before Thanksgiving. Mama made a pumpkin flan that was not to be believed, but the flan, unusual back then, is common now, so I thought I'd share this with you instead. Pumpkin custards --- made rich with cream, flavored with orange and spices, and stiffened with gelatin --- are served with a sauce of brown sugar, butter, and orange. It's an easy, elegant alternative to pumpkin pie, it's gorgeous to look at and the recipe can be doubled. What's not to like?

Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Orange Caramel Sauce


Ingredients:
1 cup cooked pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups half-and-half, divided use
1 cup heavy cream
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1 cup sour cream
Orange Caramel Sauce
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest

Directions:
1) Grease six 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups with butter or vegetable spray. Set aside.
2) Process pumpkin puree, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, mace, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the half-and-half and process for 1 minute longer. Transfer the pumpkin mixture to a 3-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in 1 cup heavy cream and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture comes to the simmer. Cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
3) Meanwhile, in a small microwave container, combine 1/2 cup half-and-half and the gelatin. Allow gelatin to soften for 2 to 3 minutes, then heat in a microwave about 30 seconds on high-power until the gelatin has dissolved. Add the gelatin to the pumpkin mixture along with the sour cream, vanilla and orange zest; mix well. Pour the mixture into prepared molds and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
4) Shortly before serving, melt butter and brown sugar together in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add the orange juice and simmer until the mixture is thick and smooth. Stir in the orange zest and set aside.
5) To serve, unmold and turn the panna cotta onto dessert plates. Drizzle with warm Orange Caramel Sauce. Yield: 6 servings.

7 comments:

Martha said...

I love pumpkin panna cotta. But the orange caramel sauce takes it a step further! Love your story as well. Memories are precious.

Cathy said...

It's nice to reminisce, isn't it? Mama S. was a wise woman. This dessert looks absolutely wonderful and would be a perfect ending to a heavy holiday meal.

Lisa said...

Great flavors.I love panna cotta.

Allie said...

It looks beautiful! My mouth is watering reading the ingredients.

Maria said...

The orange caramel sauce sounds wonderful! Great way to top it off!

Pam said...

Looks and sounds tasty. Great photo.

muppy said...

I have to try this :)

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