A few weeks ago, a fellow food blog buddy – Christianna Reinhardt over at Burwell General Store – came up with an ingenious idea. She came across an old cookbook at a swap meet (more on the cookbook on her blog. I will say this…its a hymnal and cookbook all in one. I love it.) and suggested that we use the old cookbook to inspire a recipe swap. Essentially this meant that we would take a recipe from the book and loosely re-interpret the dish according to our own tastes. Then, we’d post the results on our blogs and “swap” recipes. We gave ourselves time to locate ingredients, brainstorm, test, and post – and decided that today would be the great unveiling.
The recipe that she selected for our first swap was an Autumn Persimmon Pudding. The original recipe was quite simple and straightforward, and I imagine the end result was more of a British style “pudding” (bready: akin to bread pudding or figgy pudding).
I don’t often cook with persimmons (Read: I’ve never cooked with them) but I’ve had them before in various dishes and have always enjoyed them. That being said, I wasn’t entirely sure how to approach this recipe swap. My first thought was to make a persimmon curd, but after scouring the internet for recipes and ideas I couldn’t find anything that stood out to me. (The only persimmon curd recipe I found online looked a little bit gross, actually.)
But, then I came across this gem of a recipe: Persimmon Panna Cotta with Maple Glazed Pecans.
The recipe looked simple, straightforward, and it was still in the same vein as the original persimmon pudding. Oh, and did I mention that it sounded completely decadent and wonderful? I’ve never attempted a panna cotta before, and so I thought this would be a great opportunity to try it out.
So, I made the recipe with a few twists of my own. Right off the bat, I knew that I would scrap the maple pecan topping, and instead chose to “invent” a spicy caramelized hazelnut topping. Hazelnuts are an Oregon staple, and I wanted to be sure to highlight this local favorite. I absolutely adore hazelnuts, and I am fortunate enough to live in a region where they abound. Therefore, I had no choice but to highlight our regional ‘darlings’! For the actual panna cotta, I didn’t stray too much from the original recipe, as I wanted to ensure that the panna cotta set properly. I did fiddle a bit with the seasonings, and I used a combination of whole milk and cream (rather than all cream).
I must say: I was terribly pleased with the results. The panna cotta set beautifully, the flavors were simple and lovely, and the crunch and spice of the hazelnuts paired nicely with the sweetness of the silky persimmons panna cotta. This is a beautiful and seasonal dessert, and I will definitely make it again. The first recipe swap was a great success!
For those who are curious as to the other recipe in this “swap”, head over to Burwell General Store to see CM’s post. She made Persimmon Crème Brulee with Blackberries (!!!). I am so bummed that we don’t live in the same state, because I could really use a bite of persimmon crème brulee right about now!
(Fun fact from Wikipedia: apparently every year in Mitchell, Indiana there is an annual persimmon festival, complete with a persimmon pudding contest. CM – too bad we don’t live in Indiana? We would totally win.)
Anyway, the panna cotta turned out beautifully – I dare you to try it yourself. Here is the recipe:
Persimmon Panna Cotta with Caramelized Hazelnuts
(Adapted from Bon Vivant)
For starters, you’ll need to poach persimmons for this recipe:
2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
4 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cinnamon stick
Bring the water and sugar to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the persimmons and cinnamon stick. Make sure that there’s enough water to cover the fruit. Simmer, uncovered for up to 30 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave to cool until needed.
Persimmon Panna Cotta
14 ounces poached persimmons, pureed until smooth (*I found that 4 fuyu persimmons, after poaching did not quite equal 14 oz – it was more like 12 oz. but I just used what I had!)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
2¼ teaspoons gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
2 cups cream or half and half (I used 1 cup half and half, and 1 cup whole milk)
¼ cup granulated sugar
Stir the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into the pureed persimmons, mix and set aside. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium sized bowl and let it stand while you prepare the rest of the panna cotta.
If you’re planning on serving the panna cotta in their molds, then skip this step. But if you’d like to serve them on a plate (“free-standing”) you will first need to oil 4 ramekins (or bowls) with a neutral-tasting oil.
Heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved (it will only take a few minutes), remove from heat and stir in the persimmon mixture. Then pour the warm contents of the saucepan over the gelatin and mix until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Pour the mixture into molds and refrigerate for at last 4 hours before serving.
1 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
3/4 cup sugar (all I had was light brown sugar on hand, but white sugar works as well)
dash of cayenne
dash of cinnamon
dash of black pepper
dash of nutmeg
a “bit” of water
Mix sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly (don’t burn the sugar!) until the mixture reduces to a thick syrup. Stir in the spices and seasonings (to your liking. I wanted it to be a little spicy!) and then add in the hazelnuts. Remove from heat, and spread nuts out on parchment or wax paper. Once cooled (and the sugars have hardened), sprinkle a healthy amount of the caramelized nuts over the panna cotta when you are ready to serve.