Cinnamon Panna Cotta with Spicy Autumn Fruit Compote

The recipe for the cinnamon panna cotta is adapted from Camilla V. Saulsbury’s “Panna Cotta” book which was brought to my attention by a publisher. Despite my skepticism towards the unmolded panna cotta in general, I have to admit that this recipe successfully achieves both – creamy texture and free-standing presentation. I didn’t serve it with a sticky toffee sauce as per author’s suggestion, but with spicy autumn fruit compote to cut down the richness a bit.

The book has a lot of interesting ideas, delicious flavor combinations and not only sweet, but savory as well. Just for the tease in light of the upcoming holidays – Chestnut Caramel, Pumpkin, Molasses, Five-Spice and Honey, Gingerbread Spice, and much more.

Makes 8 servings

For the panna cotta (adapted from Camilla V. Saulsbury):

  • 2 tbsp pear brandy (or just brandy)
  • 2 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 2 ½ cups whipping cream
  • ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the compote:

  • 2 cups pear nectar
  • ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon removed in long strips (yellow part only)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks broken in half
  • ¼ tsp black peppercorns, cracked
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 ripe but firm medium pears, cut into cubes
  • 2 medium baking apples, cubed
  • ¼ cup chopped dried apricots
  • ¼ cup chopped prunes
  • ¼ cup chopped dried figs (any variety will do)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp pear brandy (or regular brandy)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Make the panna cotta:

Pour the brandy into a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the brandy and let stand for about 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.

Meanwhile, place the cream, brown sugar, and salt into a heavy, medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot. Add the softened gelatin, whisk to dissolve. Whisk in the sour cream, vanilla, and cinnamon until well-blended and smooth.

Ladle or transfer the mixture into a large liquid-measuring cup and pour into 8 ¾-cup custard cups, ramekins, or small molds. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and chill 4 hours or up to overnight.

To unmold, cut around edges of each panna cotta to loosen. Set each cup in a shallow bowl of hot (not boiling) water for 10 seconds. Immediately invert onto a plate. Spoon the slightly warm compote over or/and around each panna cotta and serve.

If you wish, you can skip the unmolding process, and serve the panna cotta right from the ramekins, topping it with the compote.

Make the compote:

In a large heavy saucepan combine the pear nectar, sugar, lemon zest, spices, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat, add the fruits and simmer, stirring often, until the pears and apples are tender but still hold their shape and the dried fruits are plumped, about 5-8 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer the poached fruits into a bowl; make sure the cloves are left behind.
Reduce the poaching liquid over high heat until it’s syrupy and about half of its original volume, for about 15 minutes or so. Take off the heat, stir in the brandy and lemon juice, and then strain through a fine sieve right into the bowl with the poached fruits. Stir gently to combine. Cool until barely warm before spooning over the panna cotta. Or, cool completely, cover and refrigerate until needed. Warm it gently before serving.

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22 Responses to “Cinnamon Panna Cotta with Spicy Autumn Fruit Compote”

  1. This looks delicious, but beyond me as we don’t eat gelatin. :(

  2. Panna cotta made with sour cream and brown sugar sounds amazing. I really like the combination of dried fruits and fresh fruits in this recipe!

  3. oh i love the fall flavors you used. the panna cotta is just gorgeous.

  4. I am thrilled that you liked the recipe, Vera–and the compote looks and sounds divine!



  5. Brown sugar panna cotta sounds heavenly. The fruit is such a nice combination of fall flavors. Yum!

  6. your panna cotta looks so creamy and delicious! I love the fruit compote. nice accompaniment to the flavors in your panna cotta.

  7. I think you should put together a cookbook of some (or all!) of the mouthwatering recipes from this site. I predict that it would be an absolute bestseller!!!

  8. Aparna, you can easily substitute gelatine with Agar Agar ( Also called China Grass in India)

    Lovely idea for the fruit compote- Vera. But can you pls help? What is pear nectar…?

  9. Wow, that is simply gorgeous! I haven’t tackled panna cotta yet, but this just looks divine.

  10. This looks delicious–what a lovely combination of flavors.

  11. Вера, добрый день. У вас потрясающие фотографии (я, наверное, повторяюсь :)). Я посмотрела архив Вашего блога с самого начала – и хочу сказать, что Вы здорово преуспели в качестве вашей съемки (качество блюд, подозреваю, было всегда великолепным!). Цвет, свет, композиция – все perfect! Вы снимаете при естественном освещении или у вас есть искуственный свет? И еще, если это не секрет, скажите пожалуйста, какой камерой и объективом Вы пользуетесь? Спасибо!

  12. WOW – that is gorgeous. LOVE the texture – I bet it is just divine with that compote. Delicious!!

  13. Would pectin work as a substitute for gelatin?

  14. Thank you very much all for your kind words!

    Camilla, congratulations on the lovely book! I truly enjoyed it.

    Lilly, pear nectar is basically pear juice. You can use either pear or apple juice if the former is not available.

    Elena, спасибо! Конечно, это не секрет. Я снимаю Canon 400D, линза Canon 100mm 2.8F или Canon 50mm 1.4F. Свет всегда дневной, за исключением самых первых фотографий.

    Shikha, pectin will not work as a substitute here.

  15. Вера, спасибо за ответ. Я почему спросила – хочу купить Canon 450D но у меня были сомнения, сможет ли он справиться с чем-либо подобным.. Теперь вижу – еще как сможет :) Вы-молодец!

  16. your blog is my latest obsession!! l ove this panna cotta! very autumny!

  17. Vera, what a lovely dessert. I love the range of flavours and ingredients. Surely does have a taste of autumn. The texture of the pannacotta is perfect!

  18. Hmmmm… panna cotta is one of these desserts that I keep reading about but have never made. I think it has something to do with my fear of using gelatin as every time I try it, kitchen disaster strikes.

  19. Everybody thinks this sounds wonderful. Well folks, I can tell you it is outstanding. I did not unmold the panna cotta, but served it in small pink glasses because we were bringing dessert to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. Couldn’t figure out how to transport 8 unmolded panna cottas. As it was I used a muffin tin to hold the glasses so they wouldn’t tip. Just enough space was left for fruit compote, which was really yummy. However, sticky toffee topping would have made it as well–for Thanksgiving you want too much of too much. Thank you for a great recipe, and for a blog that brings me endless pleasure.

  20. Rita, I’m so glad you made it! And what a clever idea with the muffin tin! I’ll do the same this Sunday (I’m going to transport 20).

  21. This is such a remarkable blog! I am not a very experienced baker, so this will be very helpful. The Russian scant is nice because I am from Azerbaijan.

  22. Slant.

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