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Sour Cream Panna Cotta with Pumpkin Cranberry Compote

Posted By Alina On October 12, 2010 @ 18:22 In Beyond Eastern Europe | 17 Comments

One of the first golden rules I’ve made as a new parent is not to rush. You will never accomplish everything you’d like to on time, unless you have someone who looks after your baby 24/7 and feeds her. I was very stressed out for the first two weeks because I was trying to do everything at once – be with my daughter whenever she’s awake, do housework, update my two websites, cook, plus a dozen things more. Which was impossible, of course. The only way to handle this postpartum chaos is to relax and do your tasks one by one. Don’t be afraid to postpone things or cancel your plans, that’s what I realized, just try to be super-flexible about your schedule. Baby wakes up just after you’ve prepared all ingredients and heated your skillets for a new dish you’ve been dreaming to try? Never mind, seal your ingredients in a plastic wrap and put them off for later. Managed to do just five yoga asanas instead of the planned ten? A little is better than nothing!

With this new rule in my armoury, I’ve been waiting patiently for a free hour in my schedule to make a Panna Cotta that I’ve been meaning to make for ages, and to use up the large piece of pumpkin that Mom brought me from the farmer’s market. I primarily associate pumpkin with cuisine of the US, but it’s also a common ingredient for old Russian cuisine, where pumpkin appears in dishes like stuffed pancakes, millet gruel, pies, and others. Sour cream (Smetana in Russian) is another essential component of Russian cuisine, so this dessert is an attempt to fuse elements of Italian, American, and Russian cooking traditions. Actually I chose to substitute sour cream for half of the cream in my Panna Cotta because I shouldn’t be eating a lot of fats. Sour cream contains a lot of fat as well, but it just sounds healthier to me. And it kind of links the purely Italian treat to a compote that includes a not at all Mediterranean ingredient: wild cranberries to set off the straight sweetness of pumpkin in sugar syrup. The original recipe, which I copied from my Grandmother’s notebook, called for a splash of lemon juice and a quince in the syrup, but I’m not allowed to eat any citruses at the moment, while quince has somehow disappeared from local farmer’s markets these days. But aren’t cranberries, the fall berries, a better match for pumpkin than lemon? With cranberries instead of lemon juice, I also find this dessert quite breastfeeding-friendly, unless you’re on an individual diet. Worked well for me and my little one, at least!

Sour Cream Panna Cotta

2 cups whipping cream
2 cups sour cream
6 tbsp sugar
5 tsp gelatin
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp cold boiled water
Vegetable oil

Serves 6


In a medium-sized saucepan, combine cream, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Heat until almost boiling and simmer for a few minutes. Set aside.

Pour 6 tablespoons water into a medium-sized bowl and sprinkle gelatin onto the water. Let the gelatin soak for 5 minutes, then stir in the cream mixture and stir well until all gelatin dissolves completely.

Brush 6 small ramekins or (preferably) silicon moulds with some vegetable oil and pour the cream mixture into them.Seal with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Unmould each Panna Cotta before serving and serve chilled with Pumpkin Cranberry Compote.

Pumpkin Cranberry Compote

500g pumpkin, washed
3 cups water
3 cups sugar
½ cup wild cranberries, rinsed
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 whole cloves
1 tsp vanilla sugar


Remove skin from pumpkin and cut the pumpkin into small cubes.

Place pumpkin cubes into a large saucepan and pour 3 cups water over them. Add 1 cup sugar, bring to a boil, and boil the pumpkin for just one minute. Remove pieces of pumpkin with a perforated spoon and place them in a separate saucepan.

Return the pumpkin syrup to heat. Add remaining sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and cranberries. Boil the syrup for 5 minutes, pour boiling syrup over the cooked pumpkin cubes and cover with a lid. Leave the compote to infuse for 3-5 hours, then refrigerate overnight and serve chilled.

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