Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Pumpkin is such a quintessential autumn ingredient.  At first, I wanted to make pumpkin whoopie pies and realized I posted those last year.  Here's the link: http://thesensitiveepicure.blogspot.com/2011/10/pumpkin-whoopie-pies-with-molasses.html  The only difference is that I would make maple marshmallows using maple syrup instead of molasses.  Much better flavor pairing.  Maybe I will make those for the weekend.  Then I remembered another favorite of mine I have not made since probably two years ago: pumpkin panna cotta with a pepitas (pumpkin seed) brittle.  Panna cotta is Italian for cooked cream and it is generally a simmered cream, sugar, and gelatin mixture that is eaten once cold and set up.  It is one of my favorite desserts.  I took the standard recipe and replaced half the cream with pumpkin pulp, used brown sugar instead of white sugar, and added in traditional spices.  I thought a brittle would compliment the texture well, and using raw pumpkin seeds/pepitas works perfectly.  Yes, the brittle is a "technical" component, meaning that for best results, use precision: weighing the ingredients, monitoring temperature, and working fast.  Just read through the ingredients and instructions twice before trying it.  You can do it, I have confidence in you.  Notes: glucose can be found at any baking/candy supply store and most craft stores; allow 4 hours to set; makes 6 servings.

Pumpkin Panna Cotta
  • gelatin: 2 teaspoons (6.5g)
  • cold water: 2 tablespoons (30g)
  • heavy cream: 1 1/2 cups (345g)
  • pumpkin, canned: 1 1/2 cups (370g)
  • brown sugar: 3/4 cup (150g)
  • vanilla extract: 1 teaspoon (7g)
  • cinnamon: 1 teaspoon (3g)
  • salt: 3/4 teaspoon (3g)
  • nutmeg, ginger, allspice: 1/4 teaspoon (0.5g) each
  • sour cream: 8 ounces (220g)

Pepitas (Pumpkin Seed) Brittle
  • sugar: 90g
  • glucose/corn syrup: 60g
  • water: 38g
  • pepitas, raw: 70g
  • butter: 6g
  • vanilla: 3g
  • salt: 0.6g
  • baking soda: 1.0g

Pumpkin Panna Cotta
  1. In a small bowl, put in the gelatin and add the cold water on top of it, covering it completely.  Allow to bloom for 10-15 minutes.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, pumpkin, sugar, salt, and spices (but not the vanilla yet since it's more heat sensitive).  Whisk over medium-low heat with constant stirring.  Once warm, add in the hydrated gelatin and whisk with constant stirring until dissolved.  Heat until not even simmering, about 10-15 minutes total time, 2-3 minutes once the gelatin has been added.  Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.
  3. In a large bowl, add in the sour cream at once.  To that, slowly whisk in the pumpkin/cream mixture.  Constantly whisk until completely mixed.  Evenly divide into 6 ramekins/custard cups.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to set up in fridge for at least 4 hours.
Pepitas (Pumpkin Seed) Brittle
  1. Lightly oil a marble slab or silpat or parchment on a cookie sheet.
  2. Combine the sugar, glucose, and water in a small, heavy saucepan.  Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar and make a syrup.  Boil the syrup until the temperature reaches 250F.
  3. Add in the raw pepitas and butter.  Continue to boil until the mixture reaches 312F.  Stir constantly and gently to prevent burning on the bottom.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in the vanilla, salt, and baking soda.  Use cation, as the hot syrup will foam up for a moment.
  5. Pour the mixture onto the slab you prepared.  Using an oiled spatula, gently and very quickly spread out the mixture as evenly as possible.  Immediately, lightly salt the top. 
  6. Using a large, strong knife or cleaver, carefully cut the brittle into strips, squares, whatever shape you would like.
  7. Cool completely and store in airtight containers.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Fall Fest. Check out The FN Dish.  The summer produce we're focusing on here are pumpkins.  On twitter, we're tagging #FallFest. Here are other delicious pumpkin recipes to try out: