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.
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.
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
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
Instructions for the Gingersnap-Toffee crust:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter 6-1 cup volume ramekins.
- 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.
- 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.
- Scoop 1/2 cup into each ramekin and press into a crust covering the bottom and sides of the ramekin evenly.
- 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.
Instructions for Pumpkin-Spice Panna Cotta:
- In a small bowl pour 3 tablespoons of the whole milk and the contents of the gelatin packet. Stir to combine. Set aside.
- 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.
- In a blender combine the remaining whole milk, Half and Half, sugar, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract. Pulse to fully combine.
- Pour the pumpkin mixture into a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar fully dissolves.
- 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.
- 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.
- The panna cotta may be covered and chilled overnight, then served chilled or allowed to come to room temperature before serving.