It's officially crunch time, Thanksgiving is almost here. If you're hosting the big day this year, whether a small or large crowd, the shopping needs to be done, the lists need to be prepared, the house needs to be cleaned, and with all that needs to be done, it can be challenging to incorporate a new recipe. But don't worry...This Pumpkin Panna Cotta has you covered.
This dessert is incredibly easy to prepare, requires no baking, and will make your family and friends wondering when you had time to take culinary school classes.
What is Panna Cotta?
Meet pudding's sexier, lighter, creamier (chef-ier?) Italian cousin. Cooked with heavy cream, milk, and gelatin, you truly can adjust panna cotta to meet any flavor profile. After cooking it is left to set in a mold and chilled. Which means
- It can be made in advance and
- is adaptable for a variety food preferences and
- you can eat it straight out of the mold or wiggle it out and plate it up all fancy.
My usual preference is a milk chocolate ganache - two parts chocolate, one part heavy cream - and a little shaved white chocolate on top. Milk, cream and chocolate - check off all the food groups.
Why I Love Pumpkin Spice Panna Cotta
The other case to make for this particular recipe is that it is a great alternative to all the boring, tired pumpkin desserts that so frequently visit the Thanksgiving table.
A light, Pumpkin Panna Cotta is the perfect amount of sweet indulgence that won't leave you with crashing sugar levels an hour after eating. And you don't have to worry about filling up on all that delicious turkey, potatoes, and stuffing - only a small bit of space is required for this fluffy pumpkin delight.
Lastly, this Pumpkin Panna Cotta is for those who are with me. The pumpkin pie haters. I'm sorry, I can't change the way I feel. If you also feel this way, but enjoy other pumpkin things, well then come to my house and have some of this Pumpkin Panna Cotta.
Ingredients and Substitutions
How to turn this into a Vegan Pumpkin Panna Cotta
If you are a vegan, or have vegan guest coming for Thanksgiving dinner, you can easily make a few small substitutions to make this suitable for everyone around the table. Simply swap out the milk for coconut milk (or any other non-dairy milk) and switch the heavy cream for coconut cream.
The gelatin would need to be a plant based brand (the Knox brand that is shown in my ingredient picture is not) or agar agar powder can be used as a 1:1 substitute - make sure you are following the package instructions when prepping this!
How to Make Thanksgiving Panna Cotta
In a heavy bottom saucepan, sprinkle the envelope of gelatin over ½ cup of the milk. Let sit while preparing the remaining ingredients, about 5 minutes.
In a food processor or blender, combine the heavy cream, pumpkin puree, sugar, vanilla extract, and spice. Blend on high until smooth.
Add the remaining milk to the gelatin mixture on low, occasionally stirring, until gelatin dissolves, about 2 minutes.
Add pumpkin mixture to the sauce pan and raise the heat to medium. Cook until the liquid is just scalding - it should be steaming but not quite simmering.
Remove the pan from the heat and pour into prepared containers, about ½ cup per container.
Chill ramekins in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight for best results. Enjoy as is or garnish with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice, caramel, or chocolate drizzle!
This Pumpkin Panna Cotta recipe is super easy and really doesn't have many steps to it either, but I have found a few tips and tricks to make you life a little easier when preparing this creamy Thanksgiving treat.
- Spray ramekin dishes prior to filling them with the liquid, this will help you remove them!
- Once they have set, you will only need to run a sharp, thin knife around the outside to loosen the dessert. Place the dish you want to serve it on, on top of the mold, and flip. Gently wiggle the mold off - and voila!
I love this dessert for this reason! It's so convenient, it can be made up to 3 days in advance and left in the fridge to chill until you are ready to serve. I wouldn't recommend leaving it for longer than that, after about ⅘ days it can start to solidify a bit and go slightly rubbery, and we certainly don't want that!
So the best way to find out is to gently shake your mold or ramekin dish, if the Panna Cotta 'quivers' then it is set, you don't want it to be runny, it should look it's barley able to stay together - but it does.
Most likely because you didn't let the gelatin dissolve fully. This is really super important to make sure you get a deliciously smooth panna cotta.
Hungry For More Pumpkin Recipes?
Try my activated Charcoal Pasta with creamy Pumpkin Sauce for a fun and delicious way to switch up pasta night!
Taste the combination of France meets the US with my Beef Stuffed Pumpkin. It's the most delicious savory comfort food, perfect for a cold Fall day. I love the way this dish looks too, served in the bright orange pumpkin shell, it wouldn't look out of place in the Thanksgiving Day feast!
For a boozy pumpkin treat, check out my Swirled Bundt Cake! It's filled with wonderful pumpkin flavors and topped with a naughty Chocolate Bourbon Glaze.
Pumpkin Panna Cotta
- 1 ½ cup whole milk
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- In a large sauce pan, sprinkle the envelope of gelatin over ½ cup of the milk. Let sit while preparing remaining ingredients, about 5 minutes.
- In a food processor or blender, combine remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.
- Heat the milk and gelatin mixture on low, occasionally stirring, until gelatin dissolves. Milk will almost appear curdled at first, but as gelatin dissolves it will smooth.
- Add pumpkin mix to the sauce pan and bring heat to medium. Stirring occasionally, cook until the liquid starts to steam.
- Remove the pan from the heat and pour into prepared ramekins.
- Chill ramekins in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight for best results.