Fairytale Panna Cotta with Calvados Caramel Sauce

Panna Cotta Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup whipping or heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons plain gelatin
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups whipping or heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin purée
  • 1 tablespoon Nielsen-Massey vanilla paste (available at King Arthur or Williams Sonoma)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Optional: fairy dustings of ground ginger, cinnamon or Pumpkin pie spice


Put six 3/4-cup custard cups on a tray. Combine 2/3 cup sugar with 4 tablespoons water in a heavy saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil for 8 minutes without stirring until the syrup is deep amber, brushing down pan sides with a wet pastry brush while swirling. Do not come close to letting it burn. Pour the hot caramel into each of the six custard cups, tilting the ramekins to cover the bottoms. Set aside at room temperature.

Pour 1/4 cup whipping cream into a tiny bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface. Let it soften for 10 minutes. Combine 6 tablespoons sugar, 1 3/4 cups cream, vanilla paste and Pumpkin purée in a heavy saucepan. Heat until almost boiling while whisking to combine the Pumpkin purée. Remove from the heat. Add the gelatin mixture, whisking until it is dissolved. Pour the cream mixture into a 6-cup glass measuring cup or bowl; whisk in the buttermilk to incorporate. Season very lightly with fairy dust sprinklings of ground ginger, cinnamon or Pumpkin pie spice as you choose. Pour the mixture through a strainer into a bowl, pressing to remove solids. Pour the strained mixture evenly into the six prepared custard cups. Cover and chill overnight. (Can make a day or two ahead.) When you are ready to serve, gently loosen the sides of each panna cotta, cover with a small plate and quickly invert. Drizzle with ever so slightly warmed Calvados Caramel Sauce (below). Serves six.

Calvados Caramel Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons Calvados
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


In your grandmother’s old cast-iron skillet, slowly melt sugar over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth and pale golden-brown. Remove it from the heat and, stand back because it will bubble and spit~add the water and Calvados carefully down the side of the pan, whisking to incorporate while bubbling. Once it has calmed down, return the pan to low heat and simmer while whisking until smooth. Remove it from the heat and stir in the butter. Serve, or cover and chill, rewarming before serving. (Can make a day or two ahead.)