Pumpkin-Spice Panna Cotta with Gingersnap-Toffee Crust

Pumpkin-Spice Panna Cotta with Gingersnap-Toffee crust - BoulderLocavore.com

We have entered the season of food, friends, family and entertaining.  It becomes a bit of a blur from now through New Years Day!

Over the years I’ve amassed a large collection of tableware, loving versatility and matching table settings to an occasion.  My collection ranges from my Grandparent’s Haviland wedding china produced in Paris to vintage Tansferware, minimalist monochromatic white and many variations in between.  The combination of place settings, serving utensils and vessels and linens all set a tone and I love playing with combinations to make a meal perfect for the occasion.

Pears in Fall - BoulderLocavore.com

This summer I introduced you to a favorite online source of all things entertaining:  Classic Hostess.  I discovered them originally for their abundant and varied styles of drink dispenser jars that I love using for making Sangria, homemade vinegar or simple herb and fruit infused iced teas.  When I landed on their site I found myself in a wonderland of options for every day dining as well as seasonal entertaining, gifts and home décor.  By the time I was done poking around their website two hours later I had dreamed up a Labor Day nautically themed seafood cookout, Game Day potlucks, and my favorite holiday hosting.  Their selection ranges from sleek, elegant high-end with panache, to homey, rustic collections such as their Mason Jar line that make any gathering feel relaxed and familiar.  They’ve expanded their gift line this year with great options for Her and for Him to include gifts for Travelers, Wine-lovers, Beer-lovers, Historians, the Executive, and more.  I feel confident you will find anything you might imagine for your dining table, bar, and gift-giving needs on their website; it’s unending!

With the baking season afoot, it is the perfect time to try out some of Classic Hostess’s  bakeware options. This 9 piece Bakeware Set in my favorite Lime Green was something I could not resist. Kitchen real estate is at a premium in my household for the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  With many dishes to prepare and two ovens on the go, I loved the idea of creating a dessert that captures the Thanksgiving flavors but can be done ahead of time, as well as satisfy with individual portions.

Pumpkin-Spice Panna Cotta with Gingersnap-Toffee crust - BoulderLocavore.com

One of my favorite desserts is Panna Cotta, a simple rich Italian custard.  It is easy for any level of home cook expertise and can be influenced to highlight the flavor of any holiday or season.   I created a lighter Pumpkin-Spice Panna Cotta in a Gingersnap Chocolate Toffee Crust.  It’s easy to create and may be done the day prior to Thanksgiving to be served chilled or at room temperature.  The idea of all the traditional flavors in a cooled presentation felt like a welcome dessert to over-full holiday stomachs!  A perfect dessert to celebrate the season.

Pumpkin-Spice Panna Cotta in a Gingersnap-Toffee Crust

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 6 desserts

This perfect fall dessert reminds one of a lighter version of pumpkin pie served in individual ramekins. The gingersnap and chocolate English toffee crust adds a surprising burst of flavor and texture to the pumpkin panna cotta.

I usually make panna cotta using heavy cream but considering it as a possible Thanksgiving Day dessert opted to use whole milk and Half and Half which still create a rich dessert but perhaps not quite as rich as cream. Certainly cream can be substituted for with the milk, or Half and Half, or both if wishing pure decadence!


    Ingredients for Gingersnap-Toffee crust:
  • 4 cups Gingersnap cookies (gluten-free or with gluten)*
  • 5-1.4 ounce/39 gram Heath Bar candy bars
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted Butter, melted
  • ingredients for Pumpkin-Spice Panna Cotta:
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • 1 packet Gelatin
  • 1 cup Half and Half
  • 1/3 cup granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract


    Instructions for the Gingersnap-Toffee crust:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter 6-1 cup volume ramekins.
  2. Add gingersnaps to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until making sand-like crumbs. Add Heath Bars and pulse until they too have turned into small crumbs.
  3. While the food processor is running, drizzle melted butter into the crumbs to fully combine. The mixture will have a texture of lightly wet sand.
  4. Scoop 1/2 cup into each ramekin and press into a crust covering the bottom and sides of the ramekin evenly.
  5. Place all prepared ramekins on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes for the crust to set. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.
  6. Instructions for Pumpkin-Spice Panna Cotta:
  7. In a small bowl pour 3 tablespoons of the whole milk and the contents of the gelatin packet. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  8. Place all the cooled ramekins with the crust onto a baking sheet. This will stabilize the finished panna cotta to be chilled in the refrigerator. Set aside.
  9. In a blender combine the remaining whole milk, Half and Half, sugar, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract. Pulse to fully combine.
  10. Pour the pumpkin mixture into a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar fully dissolves.
  11. Add the milk-gelatin mixture (which will be solid) to the saucepan, whisking to blend in. Stir constantly for an additional 2 minutes to ensure all ingredients have blended well.
  12. Remove from heat and pour panna cotta into the ramekins (approximately 1/2 cup per ramekin). Place the ramekins on the baking sheet into the refrigerator and chill for 3-4 hours, or until fully set.
  13. The panna cotta may be covered and chilled overnight, then served chilled or allowed to come to room temperature before serving.


*I used Midel gluten-free gingersnaps and found one package supplied the amount this recipe requires.

The majority of the recipe time is for the panna cotta chilling.

NOTE REGARDING CHANGING THE RECIPE FORMAT: This recipe was developed as a single-serving scoopable dessert. Based on the qualities of the dessert components I do not recommend changing the format of the recipe into a tart. Should you wish to increase the servings I suggest increasing the number of single-serving ramekins prepared by making additional batches of the dessert to fulfill your serving needs.


Some fun finds for fall entertaining at Classic Hostess
Some fun finds for fall entertaining at Classic Hostess

Classic Hostess is offering a 9 piece Bakeware Set in Lime Green in a gift box to a lucky Boulder Locavore reader!  The set includes a large rectangular baking pan, a small rectangular baking pan, small square baking pan and 6 ramekins (a $49 value)!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure:  This delicious post was sponsored by Classic Hostess.  All opinions, as always,  are my own.



  1. paula says

    I really do love fall baking and can’t wait to try out your Pumpkin-Spice Panna Cotta recipe! Green is my favorite color and I would so LOVE to win the bakeware set. Thank you.

  2. Debbie Jackson says

    I love fall baking with the apples and pumpkins and other fruits and veggies from our garden and orchard. I love the smells in the house and the tastes.

  3. Cindy says

    What do you think about if I made it in a rectangular tart pan/ Also, I only got 4 bars, will that be ok?


    • says

      Hi Cindy. Typically Panna Cotta is made in individual servings and turned out to be served. This dessert is really designed to be scoopable so I don’t have any idea if putting it into a larger format would yield a result that would work well to cut it into pieces. It is not something I personally would do but if you have the time to experiment do let me know how it turns out (I personally would not plan it for something like Thanksgiving without experimenting with it first in the event it does not turn out well). Additionally I don’t know about the volume conversion of this 6 ramekin recipe to a rectangular tart pan (which come in many sizes).

      As for using fewer Heath Bars, the number I included provided a balance of gingernap and chocolate toffee flavors. If you use fewer Heath Bars the gingersnap flavor may overwhelm the toffee so you may not taste it.

      My personal recommendation is to follow the recipe as written for an assured result.

      Good luck!

  4. wendy says

    If I need to double it, would it be better to make two batches, or will it be ok all in one? I was hoping to put it in one large round tart pan as well, but it looks like that might be risky.

    • says

      Hi Wendy. I’ve only made the recipe as written so I’m unsure about doubling it in one batch. And no I don’t recommend making a different configuration of the recipe. If you have time to experiment before you need to serve it, I would definitely say to do so. I would hate for you to make this for Thanksgiving and find it really does not translate to a different form of the recipe. Please do let me know if you make it like a tart how it works!


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