This pumpkin panna cotta is the perfect creamy and dreamy dessert with beautiful layers of classic vanilla and pumpkin.
I never thought I would find a dessert that I preferred more than a classic pumpkin pie. Then this layered panna cotta came along and stole my heart! It's a beautiful no-bake alternative for when you want something easy yet decadent. If you're making it layered in a glass like I've done here, it will take a bit of time waiting for it to set between layers but the end result is so worth it.
What is a panna cotta?
Panna cotta is a dessert generally made by mixing gelatin, cream, milk, and sugar and firms up into a soft, bouncy dessert after chilling. The texture of panna cotta is softer and lighter than pudding but not as elastic as jello.
It's the perfect make-ahead dessert as it doesn't require any technical knowledge, it's quick to set, and it keeps well in the fridge. As long as the ratio of ingredients is just right, it's a foolproof recipe.
How to make pumpkin panna cotta
Bloom the gelatin: In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin powder over the surface of the cold milk and let it sit for 5 minutes until the gelatin has bloomed. It will have like a lumpy gel consistency.
Heat the pumpkin mixture: In a small pot, whisk together the whipping cream, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves until smooth. Bring this mixture to a simmer.
Dissolve the bloomed gelatin: Once small bubbles start forming at the surface of the pumpkin-cream mixture, stir in the bloomed gelatin and milk mixture until it completely dissolves.
Chill in fridge until set: Pour the pumpkin panna cotta into serving glasses and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until set. The texture should be firm to the touch but a little wobbly when shaken.
How to make a layered panna cotta
This pumpkin panna cotta can be made with just a single flavour and it tastes absolutely delicious by itself. If you have some time on your hands and want a fancier look, you can layer the pumpkin panna cotta with layers of vanilla panna cotta. See the notes at the bottom of the recipe card to learn how to make vanilla panna cotta.
To create this diagonal layered look pictured here, find some bowls or containers that your serving glasses will fit into. Fill the bowls halfway with uncooked rice. Make an indentation in the rice and place the serving glass tilted at an angle on top of the rice.
Pour your first layer of panna cotta into the serving glasses and chill until firm. Tilt the serving glasses the opposite way and fill them with the second layer of panna cotta. Chill until set again and repeat with all remaining layers.
Tips for making the best panna cotta
- Panna cotta is separating into layers as it sets: If your panna cotta separates into layers as it sets, this just means the gelatin most likely wasn't evenly mixed with the other ingredients. Just make sure the gelatin is completely dissolved and thoroughly whisked into the warm mixture. Let the panna cotta mixture cool down a bit and stir it again before pouring into serving containers and chilling
- How to store panna cotta: Panna cotta tastes the best on the same day its made but it can be stored covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. The texture will get firmer and dry out the longer it sits in the fridge.