I’m not even going to apologise this time, since thankfully you all seemed to understand and support my infatuation with pears when I rhapsodized about them earlier. I really did mean what I said about pear recipes following me around! I couldn’t decide whether to sigh with gleeful contentment or with exasperation when I flicked through my copy of Donna Hay’s winter issue and saw the lovely section all about pears. I’m just surprised that it has been so long since I cooked a curvaceous pear into anything – I must have been distracted by leggy rhubarb; another of my many culinary crushes.
Among the multitudes of pear recipes I have accumulated, this one in particular caught my eye because I love coffee. In fact, I’m addicted to coffee, no question about it. About two years ago, a friend dared me to go a week without caffeine. I thought it would be easy, but by the end of day three I broke down in tearful defeat. Now I also drink a lot of tea during the day, but without my morning coffee, lets just say I might not have many friends left! Though this dessert might be a powerful secret weapon to lure them back.
I love the strong sweet espresso syrup and the silky rich (and jiggly!) cream, and was surprised as to how nicely they worked with the pear. Though next time I would remove the peel. It was pleasantly sophisticated, definitely a grown up dessert. Because my mum doesn’t like coffee, I doubled the panna cotta recipe and made two without the pears and syrup. It’s a really nice base, and so easy to prepare in advance. I can imagine pairing other fruit with it or perhaps a simple strawberry, raspberry or even chocolate sauce drizzled over the top.
Pear and Espresso Panna Cotta
Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine
• 1/3 cup espresso coffee
• 1/3 cup caster sugar
• 1 small pear, cut into 2 x 2cm slices, peel and seeds removed
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
• 1 cup pouring cream
• 1 cup milk, extra
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Place the coffee and caster sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the pear slices and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender and the syrup has thickened slightly
2. Place the pears on the base of 2 x 1 ¼ cup lightly greased ramekins. Pour the syrup evenly over them and allow to cool.
3. Place the gelatine and milk in a small bowl. Stir to combine and allow to stand for 2-3 minutes until the gelatine has dissolved.
4. Place the cream, extra milk, brown sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the gelatine and whisk to combine. Set aside to cool.
5. Pour the cream mixture over the pears and syrup. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours over overnight. Invert into shallow bowls to serve.