Candy Corn Panna Cotta · GF ( 8, 3 oz panna cotta)

tri color panna cotta Vegetables for dessert? No one objects to pumpkin pie, carrot cake, or zucchini bread, so hear me out. Knowing spiced butternut squash tastes, for all intents and purposes, like pumpkin pie should calm you. The golden beet layer has a similarly earthy sweetness. Sandwiched between the creamy vanilla and the spiced squash, the overall effect is much like whipped cream topped pumpkin pie.

Panna Cotta Base
¼ ounce gelatin (1 pkg or 2¼ tsp dry)
2 ounces milk

10 ounces cream
7 ounces milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped, seeds reserved for vanilla layer
5 ounces sugar
½ tsp kosher salt

Set out 8, 3 ounce plastic drinking cups (like Dixie). Spray them ever-so-lightly with pan spay. Alternatively, make these in champagne flutes or parfait glasses. In that case, no spray necessary.

Place the gelatin in a small bowl and add in the milk. Mix well with a fork to ensure no lumps of undissolved gelatin will sneak past.

In a small pot, bring the cream, milk, and vanilla bean to a simmer. Shut off the heat and allow it to steep for an hour, or as long as you care to let it (even so long as overnight).

Then, bring the mixture back to a simmer. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until dissolved. Shut off the heat and remove the vanilla bean pod, making sure to scrape out the insides with a spatula.

(I do this by first grasping the tip of the vanilla bean. Then I use my spatula to press the vanilla bean against the pot, making sure the cut side of the bean faces me. Then, while firmly pressing the spatula against the vanilla bean, I slowly pull up on the vanilla bean. The tip of the spatula will thus scrape all of the vanilla-y goo out of the pod and back into the pot.)

Rinse the vanilla bean and set it aside for use in the accompanying Honey Poached Beets. Add the bloomed gelatin into the hot milk mixture and whisk until it melts completely.

To flavor the individual layers and assemble the panna cotta.

Vanilla Bean Layer:
9 ounces base
reserved vanilla bean seeds

Pour 9 ounces of the base into a small bowl and whisk in the vanilla bean seeds until they no longer clump. Then, pour a little (just over an ounce) into each of the prepared Dixie cups. Play Fillit for an hour until the panna cotta sets up. You can determine if the layer is set by gently touching it with your finger. It should feel slightly firm and should not stick to your finger.

Golden Beet Layer:
7 ounces base
6 ounces golden beets, roasted or steamed until tender, pureed

In the bowl you used for the vanilla layer (no need to wash!) measure out seven ounces of base, and whisk in the six ounces of beet puree. Let them stand for about 5 minutes, and then strain through a sieve. Press on the solids very firmly to extract as much liquid as you can.

Once the vanilla layers have chilled, pour about 1¼ ounce of the beet layer into each cup. Pour slowly and gently, so as not to disturb the vanilla layer. Refrigerate for an hour, or until you’ve beaten a few levels of Desktop Tower Defense.

Butternut Squash Layer:
8 ounces base
6 ounces roasted butternut squash
⅛ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp nutmeg

Make the squash layer as you did the beet layer, whisking the spices in after the mixture has been strained. Top off each panna cotta with this layer and refrigerate until set, or until you’re ready to eat.

If you plan on serving these later, press a piece of plastic wrap against the exposed surface of each panna cotta to keep them from absorbing stray odors from the fridge.

These keep, refrigerated, for about a week, giving you ample time to make them ahead for a party or Thanksgiving.

Serve with Honey Poached Beets and Pumpkin Ginger Cookies.


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Any questions?

Mar 16, 2012 · 12:36 PM

This looks really awesome!

 · Ilan (IronWhisk Blog) ·

Mar 16, 2012 ·  2:47 PM

I’m assuming you use the liquid portion and not the leftover beet or squash bits for the panna cotta, right? How much of the beet flavor is left in the panna cotta? Also, how sweet is the panna cotta? Would you recommend cutting the sugar and/or vanilla if just making a beet version?

I had a delicious red beet panna cotta served alongside fried farmer’s cheese in Budapest in January, and thought that I’d try to recreate it…

 · Mindy ·

Mar 16, 2012 ·  7:29 PM

@Ilan, thank you!

@Mindy, it’s been well over a year since I’ve had this, but it’s quite sweet, definitely meant for a dessert. But if you’d like to make a savory version, feel free to cut the sugar back or omit it entirely (though you may need to make up the lost volume lest the gelatin set the whole thing too firmly). I use only the beet flavored liquid, but if you’d like to include the solids for a more “hearty” texture, you certainly could. Good luck with your savory adventures!


Aug 04, 2012 · 11:16 AM

Can you use a substitute for Golden Beet? Thank you

 · Krysten · 

Aug 04, 2012 · 10:20 PM

@Krysten, absolutely! You can leave it out all together if you like, use purple beets or carrots or whatever you like. Give me a little more info and I’ll help out if I can.


Feb 11, 2013 · 10:26 AM

Hi, Stella. I’m going to this recipe this week. My question is, how do you keep the base for layers 2 & 3 from setting while the previous layer(s) are chilling? Thanks.

 · Stanza · 

Feb 11, 2013 ·  6:39 PM

Hi Stanza! You don’t have to do anything special to keep them from setting up, since the other layer(s) are refrigerating, they’re on the fast track to getting solid, while the one(s) at room temperature set up at a dramatically slower rate. If for some reason they do set up prematurely (if your kitchen is very, very cold), just re-melt them gently over low heat or with a few short bursts in the microwave. Hope you enjoy!


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 · hatenablog ·

Jun 22, 2016 · 11:05 AM

This is a nice way to enjoy vegetables as a dessert.

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