Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Pear Panna Cotta with Berry Sauce

My love affair with pears this fall continues!

You do need good, flavourful, ripe pears for this; ripe enough to mash easily with a fork. The resulting panna cotta has a tender, melting texture, but with a bit of grit from the pears. They will never be as smooth as some fruits but that's why we love them.

I recently bought some hazelnut extract which is a hard thing to find. You could use almond extract instead, or I wonder about using a hazelnut liqueur instead of the sherry (or rum). If anyone tries it, please let me know!

4 servings
1 hour prep time - plus 3 hours to overnight chill time

Pear Panna Cotta with Berry Sauce

Make the Panna Cotta:
3 tablespoons sherry or rum
1/8 teaspoon almond or hazelnut extract
3 teaspoons gelatine
1 1/4 cups bosc or Bartlett pear purée
3/4 cup cream
1/4 cup honey
1 extra large egg
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
a good scrape of nutmeg

Put the sherry or rum in a small bowl with the extract and sprinkle the gelatine over it. Set it aside until needed.

To make the pear purée, peel, core and chop the pears. They need to be quite ripe and soft but do make sure they are not bland or mushy. Press them through a sieve, scraping the back to collect then measure the purée. I started with about 2 cups of chopped pears and got a cup and and a quarter from them.  Discard any tough or stringy bits that won't go through the sieve.

Put the purée in the top of a double boiler, and mix in the cream, honey, egg, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. Mix well, then turn on the heat and cook, stirring frequently until it begins to thicken; stir constantly towards the end. Once it has thickened slightly and is steaming hot, remove it from the heat. Mix in the soaked gelatine until it is thoroughly dissolved and blended in, then pour it into a prepared 3 cup mold, or 4 individual serving dishes.

Chill until set; about 3 hours. To unmold, dip the mold in hot (tap) water without getting any on the surface of the panna cotta for a few seconds until loosened, then flip it onto the serving plate. Return to the fridge to let it reset. Serve with the berry sauce.

Make the Berry Sauce:
3/4 cup raspberries, blueberries, or cranberries
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch (optional)

Put the berries, honey, and water into a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil, covered, for 5 or so minutes until the fruit is all burst and cooked through. Press it through a sieve, discarding any seeds, skins, etc.

Cranberries will make a sauce thick enough to be used without thickening; if you use other berries and think them too thin, return the sauce to the pot with a teaspoon of arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved into 2 teaspoons of cold water, then bring it back up to a boil and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Put it into its serving dish and chill before serving.

Last year at this time I made Cream of Leek Soup.

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